Give the public what they want and they’ll embrace it in droves. It was heartening to see so many Keizer families attend the unveiling of the community build playground design last week at the civic center.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, Nov. 14, Keizer Rapids Park Playground Project (KRP) task force members joined consultants from Leathers and Associates at six elementary schools in town to find out what the kids wanted in the big toy to be built next year.
That night almost 400 parents and their kids attended the Deisgn Day event to see what they had wrought. It is too rare today to see that many citizens gather to hear what their local government is going to do for them.
It is not the city alone that will build the playground toy. It is an example of public-private coordination—the city appropriates the seed money while the public offers its input, its labor, its volunteers and fund raising.
This is no small project; it could cost up to $300,000. Leathers and Associates, consultants who have years of experience with community builds across the country, will help in fund raising, which will include grants and private donations.
Keizer families understand the value of the playground toy for their kids and visitors to Keizer Rapids Park. Depending on how large the final construction is, it can quickly become a destination for families from throughout the region.
The excitement was palpable at Keizer schools last week; the kids seemed ready to pick up a shovel or a hammer right then. The city, the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and KRPshould use the project as a tool to teach our children how a community works well with government when both are aiming for the same goal.
It is not enough to want a community build playground toy. Little hands can be effective in raising money by asking for pennies, nickels and dimes (there could be a friendly competition between elementary schools on which one can raise the most money through grassroots efforts). Little hands can also be effective when time comes to clear land. If asked just about every grade school kid in Keizer would do what they could to make the toy a reality quicker.
We have a design, we have the enthusiastic support of Keizer’s kids. Let’s take all that energy and turn it into a toy everyone can proud of.