Mary Helgeson and her 2-year-old daughter Kamrynn go down a slide at the Dream Playground in Port Angeles. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Mary Helgeson and her 2-year-old daughter Kamrynn go down a slide at the Dream Playground in Port Angeles. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Dream Playground ideas sought for makeover

Foundation issues survey for Port Angeles park

PORT ANGELES — The Dream Playground in Port Angeles is due for a makeover and the Dream Playground Foundation is asking the public for input.

The Dream Playground Foundation is asking people to fill out a 10-question survey as it looks to refurbish or replace the playground in 2020 or 2021.

The survey asks people what they like about the current playground, which is at Erickson Park on Race Street, what they don’t like and what they hope to see in the future.

“We’re really excited about getting moving on the next generation of something that is so vital to public life in a small town,” said Steve Methner, president of the Dream Playground Foundation.

“We want to bring it back to a place where people fall in love with it again and people feel it is a safe, comfortable and clean.”

The survey asks people about concerns and wishes for the park, but Methner said the foundation already has heard many ideas that will improve the next generation of the playground.

“Some parents have concerns about line of sight,” he said. “They want to see where all the kids are all the time and the structure as it is has lots of mazes and hiding holes. Sometimes that causes parents and grandparents not to be able to see all the kids.”

He said parents also have raised concerns about the ground cover at the Dream Playground. The mulch constantly needs to be replaced and maintained and some worry about what could be hiding in the wood chips.

Though there haven’t been any incidents at the Dream Playground, a boy was pricked by a dirty syringe that was close to the nearby parking lot.

“There are a number of options for that and we’re keeping our eyes open,” Methner said.

He said the foundation is considering rubber materials, such as tiles or a poured-in material, for the park.

“That seems to be what works well for kids and makes parents feel it is more clean and inviting,” he said. “We want it to continue to be the hub of play in Port Angeles.”

Methner said that moisture has compromised the wooden structures at the nearly 17-year-old park; while the wood above ground still looks good, the wood in the ground is weakened.

Exactly what the new park will look like and how much of the current structure will be incorporated is yet to be seen.

“We want to keep the same look and feel,” he said. “We’d like to get as much feedback as we can and we want it to be so darn awesome that kids just beg their parents to go play there again.”

Corey Delikat, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department and member of the Dream Playground Foundation, said the foundation has issued a request for proposals.

The foundation has asked Leathers and Associates — the firm that designed the current park — and Play by Design to submit bids on the project.

“The foundation did a really good job of researching the companies that do this type of playground,” Delikat said. “It’s much different than your average playground.”

Methner said that while the foundation is working to select a firm, the design will come after community input. He said foundation will be going to the schools to ask kids what they want to see at the playground, similar to when it was first constructed.

Delikat said the goal is to have the renovations completed in summer 2020, but said it is possible it could be delayed until 2021. That all depends on funding, availability and community support, he said.

Methner estimated the project could cost about $300,000 to $400,000, depending on design and how much help from the community there is. He said the foundation, in anticipation of renovating the parking, has been saving money throughout the years.

Currently the foundation has $120,000 in its endowment, he said.

“There’s potential grant money and we’ll be doing a lot of fundraising locally,” Methner said. “Often there are service clubs and individuals that want to help out with this kind of thing.”

Delikat said that the Dream Playground Foundation, which has been dedicated to keeping the playground maintained and preparing for the future, is in need of more board members.

“A lot of the people involved are still from the original build and we’re looking to expand,” he said. “For anyone interested in becoming a board member, we’re definitely looking for board members.”

The Dream Playground was built over five days in September 2002 by more than 2,000 local volunteers.

It is one of the largest volunteer projects Clallam County has ever seen, organizers said.

Starting in February 2002, the playground committee raised more than $185,000, nearly all from local businesses and individuals, to pay for the construction. Many local materials were donated as well.

For more information and to participate in the survey, visit padreamplayground.org.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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