Make the McKenzie Connection!

Park plans ahead for 2023

Blue River could get boost from county

BLUE RIVER: Bob Keefer had some good news when he met with the Blue River Park Board this month - Lane County is willing to chip in and help kickstart rebuilding efforts at the fire-damaged recreational resource. “It was devastating what happened with the fire but there are opportunities there,” he said.

Keefer has spent his life managing a wide range of public resources. He’s the former director of Lane County Parks and later was the supervisor of the Willamalane Parks and Recreation District in Springfield. Now a member of the Special Districts Association of Oregon, he’s been working as a consultant with various parks organizations as well as efforts to upgrade county administered properties.

“Lane County is involved in an endeavor in restoring a park system that was the gem of the Northwest in the 60’s and 70’s,” Keefer reported. When timber harvesting declined and the county parks system lost income from gas tax receipts as well, he said there was little support left.

Keefer’s good news was tied to efforts started about five years ago to develop an approved master plan for the county’s system. The result was a five-year, $6 million Parks Levy, that if passed in November, would cost property owners 16 cents per thousand dollars of their assessed values.

Of particular interest to local people, Keefer felt, is the $5 million special projects section of the levy. Of that amount, $820,000 is planned for McKenzie drainage projects - with a $70,000 earmark for the Blue River Park.

The proposal seemed to mesh well with the park board’s own recovery plans. In a recent survey, board treasurer Tony Casad noted respondents identified restrooms as their top priority.

After discussions, the board voted unanimously to list the $70,00 as part of projected funding to install a restroom, rather than port-a-potties. The facility could be sited in a location where it would be accessable near the caretaker RV pad, tennis, baseball, or pickleball courts, as well as the access point for the McKenzie River Trust’s trailhead.


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