By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Barring a surprise next Monday, it seems pretty clear the Big Toy project at Keizer Rapids Park is being delayed nearly nine months.
Mark Caillier, the general coordinator for the community build play structure project, made his recommendation at the May 7 Community Build Task Force meeting.
“Right now it’s scheduled for September,” Caillier said. “With the parks master planning process, we’re not going to be able to meet that date, so I was asked to look at other dates. Most of you have heard the dates of June 10 to 14 (2015). It’s not that we couldn’t do it earlier, but April and May in Keizer the calendar is absolutely full. June 10 is the last day of school next year. I don’t see anything else in that time period.”
The final decision is expected to be made at the May 19 Keizer City Council meeting, but a reversal among the six councilors and mayor Lore Christopher would be unexpected. Councilors Marlene Quinn and Jim Taylor spoke in favor of the delay from this September to next June at the CBTF meeting, while Christopher had expressed support for a delay earlier in the week.
Members of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board also recommended the delay in a 6-1 vote Tuesday (see related story, pg. 2).
For months it looked like community members would build the play structure from Sept. 17 to 21 in the ‘big tree’ spot between the amphitheater and the boat ramp. However, in January Christopher requested looking at a site in the 28 acres of orchard at the front of KRP along Chemawa Road. That area is in city limits but not within the city’s Urban Growth Boundary, a lengthy process that would include updating master parks plans.
“This is an opportunity to grow the project,” said Quinn, who chairs the CBTF. “Our consultants were given three options originally. They asked about the orchards but were told they were untouchable. The community needs to help us vet the process through the master plan to see where the best place is for this project.
“Yes we are disappointed,” Quinn added of the delay. “But we have to understand, the consultants gave us a timeline. We were overwhelmed about the timeline and still are. We won’t know about grants until July. This gives kids the opportunity to be there and also to have the whole summer (next year) to play on it.”
Taylor noted he’s come around to the idea of a delay.
“When I was first told this might happen, I was really