Of the Keizertimes

William Stitt came to Tuesday’s Keizer Parks Board meeting as a citizen with an idea for a new playground at Keizer Rapids Park.

He left the meeting part of a committee hoping to fast track the building of such a playground.

Stitt showed board members pictures and described a visit to an engineer friend in Oak Harbor, Wash. The friend showed Stitt the city’s play structure built at minimal cost to the city. There was a large structure for primary-aged children and a smaller, fenced-in structure for toddlers. The structures were built through New York-based Leathers and Associates.

“This type of structure inspires the imagination,” said Stitt, a father of boys ages 4 and almost 2. “There is a lot of room to run around for older kids, tunnels to climb through and a separate area for toddlers. This has got a lot to it and will keep kids interested for a long, long time. I feel we’ve got a great opportunity to do something terrific with Keizer Rapids.”

Stitt noted he looked at the Leathers and Associates website and found the company specializes in doing such play structures all over the country, asking children in local schools what they would like to see in a play structure and going from there. Stitt also noted the company helps with fundraising ideas and gives tips on how to organize projects.

Board member Jeanne Bond-Esser was among those praising the plan.

“I think it’s a terrific idea,” she said. “It’s easier to have someone who has done 100 of them to come in and help.”

Fellow board member Rick Day was among those suggesting getting together a group of volunteers to build a structure.

Bond-Esser said such a project could be eligible for grants, but an application would likely have to be submitted to the state by April. Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, emphasized the need for a solid plan.

“You would have two years, once funding is approved, to get it done,” Lawyer said. “You can build it in phases over the two years, but the key for the grant is to have the plan in place.”

Board chair Richard Walsh suggested quickly starting a subcommittee to work on such a plan. Others agreed, with a motion made to form a subcommittee consisting of Walsh, Stitt, Jason Bruster and Jim Parent.

Stitt noted afterwards he has been thinking about such a playground for some time.

“Ever since I had my first kid, I’ve thought we needed something like this in Keizer,” he said. “It seems like the perfect opportunity. I know Keizer is all about fiscal responsibility. This seems like a good fit. I’m excited to see the interest.”

For Stitt, seeing such a playground come to fruition in Keizer would be worth the time.

“I will be maybe busier than I expected to be, but it’s a good busy,” Stitt said. “I can see coming back here when my children are adults and saying I had my hand in that. It would be like a personal legacy.”