Sections of The Big Toy in Keizer Rapids Park will soon be a little bit cooler when temperatures rise. 

The Keizer City Council approved a contract to install five shade sails over sections of play structure in September. The sails, a regular feature around play structures in hotter climates, will provide relief from the sun on hot days. 

The sails will not cover the entire play structure, but Public Works Director Bill Lawyer said he consulted with Wyckham LLC, the only bidder, to determine which areas had the highest traffic.

“Our top priority was Tot Lot, but we also wanted to provide some shade where parents gather,” Lawyer said. 

The project, set to begin shortly after Labor Day, comes with a hefty price tag: $209,480. The bulk of the cost is installing support columns. 

“The columns are powder-coated steel three feet in diameter and have to be planted 12 feet deep to sustain the wind load,” Lawyer told the council. 

The bulk of the cost will be paid out of fees added to utility bills for parks services, but a donation of $25,500 from the Keizer Parks Foundation is offsetting a portion of the project. The foundation raised the funds in 2017 with a event at Keizer Rapids Parks focused around the total solar eclipse that passed right over Keizer. 

Lawyer said the parks department plans to take the sails down in the winter months to lengthen their lives, but they will be relatively cheap to replace when they reach the end of their life. According to manufacturer websites, the average lifespan of a shade sail is about 10 years. 

Lawyer added that it was difficult to find contractors with experience installing such a large-scale sail project. He’d seen freestanding shade sails all over during a visit to Arizona, but shade sails are more often attached to buildings in the Pacific Northwest.