By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The general area is known for the Big Toy.
However, the exact placement of the play structure scheduled to be built by community volunteers in June at Keizer Rapids Park was still up for discussion last week.
Mark Caillier, general coordinator for the Big Toy, gave an update during the Jan. 6 Community Build Task Force meeting.
“I want to talk about the Big Toy location,” Caillier said. “I thought we would have something to look at, but you have to picture it in your mind.”
As approved by the Keizer City Council in December, the Big Toy will be going in south of two softball fields, in part of the current orchard area.
“The apex of the circle is 600 feet of softball fields,” Caillier said. “We’ve got to have space in between the fields. The Big Toy is at that apex. What we found is if you look at the dog park parking (to the west) and extend that east, where we want to put our parking, you work your way east and by doing that we take a swat out of the orchard. You cut the orchard in half. We need to make sure there’s enough space so farm machinery can get through the orchards.”
Caillier said with the parking moved over, that would create about a 100-yard walk to the Big Toy.
“We want to make it closer,” he said. “We looked at moving the Big Toy west from the apex, which also makes the softball fields bigger. That puts the Big Toy somewhat into the orchard. We would remove 183 trees. That puts us on flatter ground and puts us in a space to allow for a bigger softball complex.”
Richard Walsh, co-chair of the task force’s fundraising committee, wondered if moving the Big Toy in the other direction would be better.
“I guess I’m thinking long-term with the park,” Walsh said. “That means this backdrop will be blocking all the space behind it. We’re creating this big no-man’s land. You would have to go around the play structure to get into the parking lot. I wonder if it wouldn’t be as easy to bring it to the east instead of the west.”
Caillier said there’s an obstacle in that direction.
“If you move the Big Toy toy east you run into a swell, which is right through the field where a burn pile is,” Caillier said. “It goes from the southwest to the northeast. As you move over (to the east), you move more into the swell. If you go straight east, you go right into it. It has a bigger grade than we thought, about a seven-foot drop.”
Marlene Quinn, chair of the task force, noted Caillier and others made the recommendation after going to the site and mapping things out.
“The swell is pretty bad out there,” Quinn said. “I’m not sure we have the time and money to extend the parking lot out there.”
Walsh encouraged everyone to think about long-term use of the land.
“I want the designer to get to work on the final touches,” he said. “We need to get going with it. As far as the exact placement, you can go out and walk it. If it’s feasible without raising the cost, I want us to think long-term and at least explore moving to that east side. If it’s not possible, I’m fine. I don’t want to give up the project.”
Caillier said that idea had been explored.
“We looked at it and we don’t believe it’s possible,” he told Walsh. “I would be glad to go out and show it. Clint (Holland) is waiting for us to make a decision so we can get moving.”
A motion was made to approve the siting, at which point Quinn mentioned how long until the five-day community build is scheduled to start on June 11.
“We have 154 days until the start of the build,” Quinn said. “We can get going now.”