Parks Board members avoid taking stance on cows issue

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Photo courtesy public domain

Photo courtesy public domain

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Eamon Bishop made the interested citizens part of a recent meeting live up to its name.

What he was interested in, however, members of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board weren’t.

Bishop, who in recent weeks has been among those advocating for city leaders to look at purchasing the “cow park” Herber family property on Verda Lane to prevent apartments from being built, came to the July 8 Parks Board meeting to discuss the issue.

The issue was the topic of a public hearing on June 12 that attracted approximately 100 people to council chambers at Keizer Civic Center, with most people speaking against plans to convert the land where cows currently are to about 120 apartments.

During the appearance of interested citizens – or public comment – portion early in the Parks Board meeting this month, Bishop wanted to know if board members would support a possible petition to ask the city to make a purchase.

“A lot of people are wanting to save that,” Bishop said in reference to the property with cows. “Some of us want to know where to focus our attention as far as support. I want to do a simple yes or no poll on your feelings if a group of citizens came forward to preserve the whole – or a piece – of that property.”

Parks Board chair Brandon Smith quickly answered.

“I need to interrupt here,” Smith said. “I don’t think putting board members on the spot and polling is appropriate.”

Board member Robert Jones wanted to know more about what was being proposed.

“I don’t have a whole lot of information,” he said.

Board member Richard Walsh agreed with Smith that polling wasn’t appropriate.

“This board is to be impartial,” Walsh said. “Besides, I haven’t heard any proposals.”

Bishop said the proposal has been to either keep the cow pasture or to allow development.

“If there is a proposal for parks with plans, it could be an agenda item to look into,” Walsh said.

Bishop tried to push his case again.

“I wanted to know, as individuals, what you think,” he said.

Smith again shot him down.

“I have spoken before on this, but that’s not the point,” Smith said. “This is the interested citizens portion of the meeting. I don’t believe it is appropriate to put board members on the spot and ask them point blank. If this is something to add to the agenda, we’d be happy to add that.”

Board member Roland Herrera was willing to reach out to Bishop.

“I would be happy to talk to you afterwards,” Herrera said. “I don’t think this is the correct forum. I went to the hearing and listened to people. I will let you know after this meeting how I feel.”

Herrera didn’t get that chance, however. Shortly after speaking, Bishop left the meeting.

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