By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Two Sandy Drive neighbors who brought up issues with McNary High School students were back in front of the Keizer City Council last week.
This time, in addition to hearing the update, councilors also gave suggestions on where else the ladies should take their complaints.
Shabri Vignery and Audra Anderson spoke to councilors last month. Their plight was highlighted in the May 30 Keizertimes, after a new gate was installed to separate the neighborhood from MHS.
“I talked with the dean of students, Mark Looney,” Vignery said. “He told me, with the gate up, we should see great improvement. But it’s only closed during school hours. Nothing is being fixed for the community. (Looney) said we still need to allow the kids to pass through. We don’t understand why, when there are two main entrances, parents need to drive through our neighborhood. Why can people still use our neighborhood?”
Anderson said while having the gate closed on weekends has been nice, the main issues are still before and after school, when the gate is open.
“It hasn’t made a difference,” Anderson said.
Vignery was in agreement.
“The school is happy, because the gate is closed during school hours,” she said. “But we still have a large issue with kids doing things after school. (Adults from MHS) will try to get out and enforce things. The kids are always there longer and come back after (the adults) leave. After school is when most of the problem is.”
Mayor Lore Christopher suggested neighbors bring up the subject at a Salem-Keizer School Board meeting.
“You may have to speak to the school board as well,” Christopher said. “There are multiple entrance so that they don’t have to use that one (on Sandy). I agree with you on that.”
Councilor Jim Taylor suggested also talking with the Cherriots Board of Directors about changing where buses drop students off at.
“This is a problem that needs to go away,” Taylor said. “It’s been a problem for 25 or more years.”
Christopher advised neighbors to keep track of how many students are hanging out by the gate at different parts of the day.
“Then go to the school district and explain the problem,” the mayor said. “You’ll have to tell them where Cherriots drops them off at. Maybe you can get them to drop off students in a different location. It’s not an easy problem to take care of. You need to continue to keep track of how many kids are there. Pictures would be helpful, of things like cigarette butts.”
City Attorney Shannon Johnson said coming up with loitering rules specifically for that neighborhood would likely be problematic.
“Just plain loitering is pretty difficult constitutionally,” Johnson said.
Both Taylor and Christopher noted the city could put together a letter for neighbors to take to the school and transit boards. The mayor pointed out Brad Coy is the Keizer representative on the transit board and could get the process going for changing bus routes.
“He will be an advocate for you,” Christopher said. “Start working now. It solves that hurdle, then you can work with the school district about closing that gate.”
Christopher wrapped up the conversation on the topic by empathizing with Vignery and Anderson.
“I have to tell you, all of us have been where you are,” Christopher said. “We’ve all been there. We all work together to solve problems. We will be there to hold your hand, but you have to do some work as well.”