Debate grows over Big Toy site

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Mayor Lore Christopher wants The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park built in the orchards, an idea facing criticism. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Mayor Lore Christopher wants The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park built in the orchards, an idea facing criticism.
(KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

The grumbling has been increasing regarding the placement of The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park project.

As previously mentioned in the Keizertimes, for months it appeared certain the community build play structure would be built between the amphitheater and the boat ramp area of KRP. In late January, however, mayor Lore Christopher opined filbert space at the front of the park, along Chemawa Road, would be a better site.

That site is not within Keizer’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), necessitating coordination with several local jurisdictions in order to use the land.

Earlier this month the Keizer Rotary Foundation Board unanimously approved a motion to give $30,000 to the project – but only if it’s built in the original location.

“It was not just one thing,” board president Greg Frank said of the decision. “It was the UGB process, tearing down the filberts, the grounds, moving it from where it was originally, the parking lot. There were so many reasons why it should be left where it was.”

A development last week, however, could change that.

“Evidently the Keizer Parks Foundation has opted not to accept any donations with any conditions,” Frank said. “So next Wednesday we will discuss this again. At our last meeting we talked about it for 20 minutes. We talked about the pros and cons. It was a unanimous decisions to put on the conditions.”

Concerns were also brought up last week at the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting.

“In my opinion, the location was discussed, debated and voted on by this board and the task force,” Parks Board chair Brandon Smith said. “What we consider the site is what everyone who’s voted on it has picked. Myself and a lot of others were surprised to hear about the UGB and looking at other sites.”

Christopher was asked last week about the Rotary Foundation’s conditional approval.

“That’s not a factor for me,” the mayor said. “Here’s the deal: I want the absolute best decision for the city of Keizer. This is a tremendous amount of money and effort. So right now it’s been located in the best possible location that we have available to us. It’s the best we’ve got. If we have the opportunity to look at other locations, we’d be foolish not to look.”

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