OMG! WTF, Keizer Station? Keizer Station will soon be a city all its own. It’s getting a transit center, medical offices, the new big box store (likely Wal-Mart as Salem Weekly pointed out last year), and the existing big box stores that are already in that area. All of that combined with the hodgepodge of bland fast-food restaurants on its outskirts.

The transition of consumers from the traditional core of a city to the edge of the interstate is one that should be of concern to the businesses in the area. A retail mecca on I-5 could cause a significant loss of sales to the various exits down the way.

It’s not surprising that a group of citizens have risen up in protest of the out-of-control development. The Keizer City Council has pointed out that a special election that will take place on March 8 is an expensive endeavor. Keep Keizer Livable, the citizens involved in the ballot initiative, banded together to prevent big-box stores from taking over their neighborhoods. The only answer from the City of Keizer and developers so far is to move development a few feet forward.

Development by free enterprise in a developer-friendly city will result in buildings being created to lease quickly and huge parking lots to support them. There is missing regulation in the development at Keizer Station that should have brought more ideas on how to improve walkability or even to create a new Main Street. What they’ve done is taken an old concept of strip malls and added more parking lots.

With smart growth thinking, the area could have been balanced between retail and residential. If Keizer Station was a planned attack on Woodburn Outlet Malls, there should have been an attempt with this opportunity to make it better than the competition. Instead, it fails at having the walkable nature that the outlet malls have. The roads themselves are akin to mazes. On foot, try getting from Petco to Lowe’s. It’s not going to happen. Remember those bland food options? Try shopping at Target and grabbing a Whopper from Burger King. Anyone attempting it will spend the calories easily, assuming they aren’t smashed under a car. Hopefully a rental car company moves into the area when the transit center comes in, because bus riders are going to need easy access to a rental car to do any shopping.

The residential neighborhood may have been more willing to cohabitate if they had been considered in the process. What if the development had been made to look like one of the many models of a Main Street that are out there? What if the parking lots as far as the eye could see had been replaced with an actual park, one that could host the Iris Festival. Instead the flower festival has been hosted on a concrete wasteland. It could have been surrounded by … irises? OMG! WTF, Keizer Station?