By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
From big state grants to Keizer Rotary support to wine tasting events, all options are being pursued to help fund The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park.
As mentioned last week in the Keizertimes, the new official name for the large play structure project being built at Keizer Rapids Park come September was selected by the Community Build Task Force.
While a name has been selected for the project, funding is far from settled.
“Things are going to start gearing up fast,” said Marlene Quinn, chair of the task force. “The fundraising and public relations committees will be the most active ones right now.”
Jeanne Bond-Esser said the Keizer Parks Foundation is turning its second annual Pinot in the Parks event on March 14 into a fundraiser to support the project. Quinn noted there will be about 400 tickets at $25 each.
“All of the money raised will go to this project,” Quinn said. “Last year we got $5,000 for a small event. We hope to double it this year.”
Bond-Esser said the Keizer Parks Foundation will be applying for several grants, with applications for two smaller grants due next month.
The big grant is a Local Government Grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for approximately $100,000. That application is due in April and has been targeted for the past year as the main one to focus on.
“With the big one, we wouldn’t know until about July if we get it,” Bond-Esser said.
Another way to raise funds has been the selling of fence pickets to go around The Big Toy. The pickets cost $35 each and have attracted plenty of attention since being shown to the public during the Design Day event in November.
“We have $2,300 collected already from that,” Bond-Esser said.
Richard Walsh noted some of the grant applications are due soon.
“These are tight deadlines,” Walsh told Bond-Esser. “Are we going to be able to do this? Is there something we can do to help?”
Bond-Esser noted one item in particular would be useful.
“If there was a budget, that would help,” she said.
Quinn said there is a list of materials to be used for the project. The items would need to be priced locally to help determine the project budget.
Clint Holland is working with Keizer Rotary to see what support the group can give to the project, both in terms of helping with materials and also during construction, set for Sept. 17 to 21.
“I’m asking Rotary if they would make this one of their days to help,” Holland said. “We have a lot of talented people. I have guys we could put on each deal and get the job done right. It’s one thing to build it, another to maintain it. I want to see if Rotary would be a main sponsor of annual maintenance.”
Holland is optimistic $150,000 or more could be raised for the project.
“There are a lot of people I haven’t talked to yet,” he noted. “This will be the biggest toy kids have seen, and parents too.”
Bill Lawyer, Public Works director for Keizer, estimated material costs would be about $300,000 for the structure, not counting an additional $50,000 for parking lot materials.
The fundraising committee for the project next meets on Jan. 28.