By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
If you were unfamiliar with Keizer and passed by in your car or on your bike, would you realize what the city had to offer?
Sherrie Gottfried fears the answer is no.
Since April 2011, Gottfried has been trying to change that.
For Gottfried, chair of the Keizer Points of Interest Committee (KPIC) and a member of the K-FEST (Keizer Festivals and Events Team) committee, the interest started when she was general manager at Keizer’s lone hotel, the Renaissance Inn. She still has the interest in new signs, even though she’s now sales manager at Red Lion Hotel in Salem.
The 132-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway starts at Champoeg State Park and goes through Keizer before ending near Eugene. The bikeway comes down Windsor Island Road North, Shoreline Drive North, turns east at Manbrin Drive North, then turns to head south and out of town on Cherry Avenue NE.
“This bikeway is the first of its kind in Oregon,” Gottfried said. “Millions of dollars are being spent each year by people camping, but that money’s not going into the town. (Renaissance Inn) is the only hotel within a mile of the route. I wanted to put signs up along the trail telling riders where the hotel is, where a park is, where to get groceries.”
With proper signage, Gottfried is convinced riders would stop and support Keizer businesses or use Keizer services.
“We need signs to direct people to city services and hotels,” Gottfried said. “We have things to keep them here and to spend their money on here. They have no clue when they’re on Shoreline that if they take a left, there is a Starbucks. They have no clue what Keizer has to offer.”
Gottfried said Keizer is just started to get into tourism and marketing itself.
“It’s up to us to take it to the next level,” said Gottfried, who has been working with city councilor Cathy Clark. “We can get a lot back from putting some signs up.”
Gottfried noted the lack of signs isn’t limited to the bikeway: drivers going by also don’t know much.
“I went home one night on the Salem Parkway,” she said. “Going north, at Cherry there’s a sign that says Keizer is to the left. When you get to Verda Lane, there’s no sign. It’s flipped when you’re going the other way.”
Gottfried is working with Bill Lawyer, director of Public Works in Keizer, to see what signs could be put up.
“Once we know where and know what the city can do, we will also see about grants,” Gottfried said.
Regardless of who helps, Gottfried just hopes there is help from someone.
“I’m hoping this project steps up,” she said. “I hope this is done by 2015.”