During discussions about development at Keizer Rapids Park, city councilors and city staff refer to the park’s master plan. The plan is a guide for the development of the park in coming years.
The original allows for minor changes but significant deviations require an amendment to the plan. It seems that master plan means different things to different people. Projects and improvements at the park must follow the master plan to assure the public that the process is transparent and allows for public comment.
The large playground project now in the planning stages is considered to be a minor deviation because the master plan called for two playground areas—albeit somewhat smaller than the current plan.
The consultant the city hired to help with playground plan advised that it be sited at a spot between the Keizer Rotary Amphitheatre and the parking lot for the boat ramp. This from seasoned professionals who have advised many other cities on just such a project.
But then came a push to place the playground in an area that is now a hazelnut orchard close to Chemawa Road. In our view this is a major deviation from the original master plan and the plan needs to be amended as called for.
The city should assure that it follows the letter of the master plan and not let it be interpreted for expediency’s sake. Developing the Keizer Rapids Park master plan was a long and complex program; the public expects that it be followed just as any other rule.
The proposed site change will require the removal of more than 50 trees. And the Urban Growth Boundary in west Keizer needs to be expanded to include that part of the park. In the rosiest of scenarios that will take until July to complete.
Organizers and volunteers have time for the scheduled build in September. There is, however, no time to amend the master plan in time. There is no choice but to build the playground at the original site by the boat ramp.
Let’s end the uncertainty and start planning and fund raising to build the playground where the consultants say is the best place. All the talk of moving the site, tearing out trees and expanding the UGB make people anxious about the project becoming a reality in September.
We’re anxious, too.