Big Toy budget a spongy issue

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KEIZERTIMES/File photo

KEIZERTIMES/File photo

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A rough budget has been established for The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park play structure project.

The next step: securing more exact numbers.

The fundraising committee of the Community Build Task Force held its monthly meeting Tuesday evening at Keizer Civic Center. Co-chair Janet Carlson, the Marion County Commissioner, outlined a budget that has some flexibility at the moment.

Part of that depends on how flexible the flooring will be.

Carlson said the base budget is $345,030 in cash. That includes $100,000 from the city in System Development Charges fees, a projected $100,000 in grants and a projected $140,030 to be raised via fundraising.

There is an additional $301,000 in volunteer or in-kind time. A small portion of that is for time in meetings, but the bulk is for donated labor during the actual construction. The play structure is expected to take five days, from Sept. 17 to 21, utilizing plenty of volunteers from Keizer.

The base budget includes $16,000 for wood chip surface all around the play structure. A spongy surface has been deemed preferable, but that changes the budget drastically.

“The figure was up to $167,000 if everything was the spongy floor,” said Richard Walsh, committee co-chair.

Mayor Lore Christopher had sticker shock when she heard that figure.

“Holy cow!” she exclaimed. “Our kids don’t get the spongy floors.”

Clint Holland said he knows someone who makes a material from shredded tires, but he didn’t have a cost estimate.

“It’s like bark dust, but rubber,” co-general coordinator Mark Caillier said of the tires. “In my opinion, the spongy floor is the way to go.”

Carlson suggested a hybrid approach, with the shredded tires by the swing area and the spongy material in other parts such as the castle.

“This is a good framework for the budget,” she said. “We need someone to find out how much the spongy cost is per foot.”

Christopher noted adding a spongy floor impacts the amount to be raised.

“We were going to fundraise $140,000,” she said. “If you add that (spongy floor), you’re now looking at $300,000. I don’t know that we want to take it on. If someone gives say $50,000 towards it, maybe just put it in the tot lot.”

Carlson said the additional flooring could cost between $50,000 and $150,000 on top of the base budget cost. The low end would include a small amount of spongy material, while the top end would be a “full-meal deal” with spongy material all around.

Another key part of Tuesday’s discussion involved naming rights. Christopher was adamant the play structure could not be named after a company or group.

“For a year, we have promoted this project as a community project,” Christopher said. “I don’t want to take that away from community. I don’t want it to become Rotary Playground. Even if someone gave us $300,000, I would oppose it. You have portrayed it as belonging to the community.”

Walsh pointed out the different sections could have naming rights, even if the main part doesn’t.

“There’s the overall part and there’s the individual parts,” Walsh said. “For example, the fire trucks part could be named for Rotary.”

Christopher and Holland, a longtime Keizer Rotary member, disagreed on the overall naming issue.

“Rotary can’t have it, even if they put up $300,000,” Christopher said. “It’s been up for a year that it belongs to Keizer, not Keizer Rotary.”

Holland argued the naming would recognize the main contributor.

“You’d just be honoring someone who put in time and money,” Holland said. “It should be Keizer Rotary Big Toy. I don’t care if Rotary is small and Big Toy is big. I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

City councilor Jim Taylor took the mayor’s side.

“It’s not going to be Rotary in name,” Taylor said. “I agree with Lore. This has been sold as a community project. Three thousand kids participated in it. If we put all of our eggs in the Rotary basket, we will lose others.”

With that, Christopher made a motion that the play structure’s final name be determined by the community and not be sold as naming rights. The motion passed 4-2, with Holland and Walsh voting against.

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