By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The big week is here for the Big Toy.
Hordes of community volunteers started showing up at the play structure site Wednesday morning, in the filbert orchards at Keizer Rapids Park.
A playground was part of the KRP Master Plan approved in 2008. The idea for what became the Big Toy was brought up at a Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting in late 2012, with a Community Build Task Force formed shortly after.
After a couple of delays, including one while the final site had to become part of the city through an Urban Growth Boundary process, all of the months of planning are set to come to fruition.
Construction started at 8 a.m. Wednesday and goes until 9 p.m. through Saturday, plus most of the day Sunday. A soft opening of the play structure is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday evening.
On Tuesday evening, the 15 construction captains met with the three consultants from project consultant Leathers and Associates. Doug Hanauer, Dave Johnson and Aaron Chandler each arrived in Keizer on Tuesday at different times.
Hanauer emphasized the need to effectively utilize volunteers.
“Once you learn our idiosyncrasies, it will be the same thing over and over again,” he said. “You’ll learn what to do with fasteners, what to do with corners. You learn all that stuff, then if you show three crews of three volunteers, it will be faster than you doing it yourself. Remember to delegate.”
Skilled volunteers – those who can cut a line with a circular saw – get red name tags, while “unskilled” volunteers get blue. Volunteers are put together in groups of three, with at least one skilled person.
Hanauer encouraged construction captains to keep an eye out for trouble.
“Everyone shares in the responsibility,” he said. “We want you to watch. If you see anything you think is unsafe, just stop them. Also, use the right tool for the job. Sometimes you’ll see people sawing a board between two saw horses. If you see that, stop them. If they get into an argument with you, come get Dave and he’ll straighten them up.”
Johnson noted the work is different from what most people are familiar with.
“We have volunteers not used to working outside all day long,” he said. “The same may be true for you. Don’t be afraid to take breaks. Stay hydrated. If you’re not going bathroom enough, you need to be drinking more water. Runners will be bringing water.”
Beth Melendy noted the Keizer CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) trailer has air conditioning and people can lay down inside if necessary.
Sunscreen will be available at the volunteer sign-in area. For safety, no open toed shoes or flip flops will be allowed.
Dave Bauer said he has food lined up for each day (see related story, pg. A5), with the goal of getting everyone fed in 30 minutes.
What if too many volunteers show up?
“We’ll deal with it,” Hanauer said. “It’s the nature of these things.”
Project general coordinator Mark Caillier said fences, poles and posts went in quicker than expected last week, thanks in part to good soil and plenty of volunteers.
“This has come together really well,” Caillier said.
Hanauer has been overseeing such builds for more than 20 years and estimates he’s been part of 230 builds.
“This is extremely well organized,” Hanauer said. “You guys did a good job getting ready.”
Having such an experienced consultant is a comfort for Caillier.
“Doug’s done literally hundreds of these,” Caillier said. “You can’t put a value to it. What’s new to us is routine to him.”
With enough material on hand to build the equivalent of two homes over the five day period, tents are set up in various areas. Most building-related activities take place at or near the actual Big Toy site, while the eating area and children’s area are by the amphitheater.
One unique aspect to the site is the trailer filled with tools donated by Makita.
“Eight years ago my son needed to meet someone at the Atlanta, Georgia airport while in his uniform,” Caillier said. “This guy sees the name and says ‘We’re probably relatives.’ It turns out we’re talking to Randy Caillier, a vice president at Makita. We had no contact for years. Rob Miller thought he had a couple of lines for tools on this project, but they fell through. I told Rob I have this long lost relative. I introduced Randy to Rob and the next thing you know, Makita sponsors our tools.”