MARCH 20, 2015, KEIZERTIMES, PAGE A5 Everything you wanted to know about the Big Toy By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes In case you haven’t heard, a big playground is coming to Keizer soon. If things go according to plan, the Big Toy will be built in June. The project has had some issues, such as a nine-month delay and a controversy over the location that lasted most of 2014. The Keizertimes has cov- ered every step of the project. To check on our past cover- age, visit www.keizertimes. com and search for Big Toy. We have put together a set of answers to questions we’ve frequently heard in regards to the Big Toy. Where is the Big Toy being built? The playground is being built at Keizer Rapids Park. More specifi cally, the Big Toy is being built in the orchards area off of Chemawa Road, not far from the dog park. That was not the origi- nal location. The original site was between the boat ramp and the amphitheater. For months that was the assumed location, but in January 2014 then-mayor Lore Christopher opined a move was necessary. By the end of the year, fol- lowing an in-depth Urban Growth Boundary process, the orchards became part of city property and the site was se- lected. Nearly 200 trees were recently cleared. When is it being built? The project is scheduled to be built in a fi ve-day period, from June 10 to 14. How much will this cost? The project budget is about $319,000. Until recently, the budget was $105,000 more as a poured-in rubber surface was going to be used. Ear- lier this year, the decision was made to go with engineered wood fi bers, hence the cut in the budget. However, Keizer offi cials will be applying for grants to pay for the more ex- pensive surface. If that funding happens, the wood fi bers will be moved to other parks in Keizer. How much of that money has been raised? For a number of months, the fi gure hovered around the 50 percent mark. With the budget cut, the number jumped to 70 percent. Even without that, fundraising ef- forts have been picking up in recent weeks. The larg- est contributor in the money raised so far is still the city, as $100,000 in System Develop- ment Charges (SDC) helped to kick-start things. What if the money isn’t raised? The project will still go on. Bill Lawyer, Public Works di- rector for Keizer, has empha- sized the city is committed to making sure the Big Toy gets built. If needed, the city will put in more SDC funds to cover any shortcoming. Janet Carlson, the Marion County commissioner who is co-chairing the Big Toy’s fundraising committee, has said fundraising won’t end in June. She feels once people see the project done, they will be more willing to contribute fi - nancially. How did the design come about, and is it fi nalized? A designer from New York-based consultant Leath- ers and Associates came to Keizer in November 2013 for Design Day. She suggested us- ing the site between the am- phitheater and the boat ramp, then led efforts to get design feedback from 3,000 elemen- tary aged students in Keizer. Design ideas from youth were collected and turned into the design shown to community members in a packed meeting at the Keizer Civic Center. For the most part, the de- sign has been fi nalized. One recent change has been the addition of a volcano slide in light of Salem-Keizer Vol- canoes owner Jerry Walker pledging funds to pay for the feature. Wasn’t this project delayed? Technically speaking, it was delayed twice. While a play- ground was part of the master planning process for KRP in 2008, a specifi c project didn’t get going until Will Stitt brought up the idea at a Parks Board meeting in late 2012. The initial idea was to do the playground the following year, but it got pushed back to 2014 to allow for more time, espe- cially in terms of fundraising and design. Funding issues and the on- going debate over location, however, pushed the build date from September 2014 to this June. What makes this a community build project? Community members will be doing the actual building over the fi ve-day span in June. Think of an old-fashioned barn raising, swapping out the barn for a large playground. In addition, volunteers have been putting in many hours at meetings to work on details for the project. It’s important to note that while volunteers will be do- ing the labor, trained people will be overseeing the con- struction. More details about how the build days will work should be known after an or- ganizational day on April 7. What if I want to get involved in any way? No help is being turned away. Plenty of time slots for the build days are still available; those interested can check out the project’s website at www. keizerbigtoy.org and fi ll out a form to volunteer. The web- site has plenty of information about the project, including how to provide fi nancial sup- port. How long has this been planned? Since November 2012. A Community Build Task Force was formed shortly after and committed to excellence dedicated to service 5 0 3 . 3 9 0 . 9 111 W W W. K E I Z E R F I R E . C O M • FA C E B O O K . C O M / K E I Z E R F I R E D I S T R I C T Submitted The site in the orchards at Keizer Rapids Park where the Big Toy playground structure will be going was recently cleared with nearly 200 trees total being taken out. Submitted A look at the latest rendering of the Big Toy playground structure, incorporating the recent addition of a volcano slide. has been meeting monthly. Will this for sure be done? Project leaders have ex- pressed complete confi dence it will be done and bristle at the notion it might be delayed again or might not happen at all. As mentioned above, city leaders have pledged to make sure it will be done.