The Keizer City Council has approved spending $100,000 in Parks System Development Charge (SDC) funds for the playground community build project at Keizer Rapids Park.

A task force comprised of city staff and members of the public will decide what the city’s kids need and want in a large play structure.

Leathers and Associates, the consultant hired by the city to help guide the project, has 40 years of experience in creating and overseeing the types of builds envisioned for Keizer Rapids Park. A visit to their website shows many examples of modest as well as ambitious builds that look like little cities for kids.

The community build task force will need to consider a number of points such as parking, future use of the park, accessibility and cost.

The field just south of the paved dog parking lot is used for parking for amphitheatre events. The recently concluded summer concert and theatre events at the venue were successful. Attendees were able to park close to the amphitheatre. A huge play structure would take over much of the area that is now used for parking. If the city stops sponsoring the summer concert series, the organizers will need to find other sources of funding. One of which could be charging for parking on the field.

There is no viable alternative to the current parking area. The lower field in the southeast corner of the park is being eyed for sports fields. If that area is developed into soccer fields, it could not be used for parking. Using the boat ramp parking area doesn’t seem like an option.

The park is 120 acres, with an additional 25 acres in orchards that will be folded into the park in the future. Within a small area a park-goer is met with a dog park, a volleyball court, and an amphitheatre. The proposed community build playground fits within the current park master plan. A revised master plan for the park, regardless of the time involved, should be completed before a decision is made on the final site for the community build.

Regardless of the design, the community build playground will be a great addition to the city’s parks. It needs to be accessible to people of all ages and abilities. A site close to Chemawa Road would be ideal, though it would mean taking out a lot of the existing filbert orchard.

Input from the public will be key to the final design of the playground. Some suggest that the paddlewheels from an old river steam boat be integrated into the design. The paddlewheels have been laying at the park waiting for just such a project.  Some suggest that a spray fountain, like the one at the Keizer Civic Center, would add a water element.

The community build will be another example of  how our city sees what other cities do, adopt it here and make Keizer better. There are plenty of decisions to be made; it will be important to keep the whole picture in focus as well as consider how this build will fit into a future vision of Keizer Rapids Park.