The Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles, shown Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, is slated for replacement with more modern playground equipment. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles, shown Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, is slated for replacement with more modern playground equipment. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Dream Playground upgrade coming in June

Generation II brings feedback elements from kids in school

PORT ANGELES — City officials have purchased nearly $118,000 worth of playground equipment for a new and improved Dream Playground.

“Generation II” of the playground near Civic Field in Port Angeles is expected to open next June with a larger central tree house, wheelchair-accessible swings, climbing features, spinners and a zipline.

COVID-19 delayed the second iteration of the Dream Playground. The city parks department and Dream Playground Foundation had planned to reopen the facility on Sept. 11.

A rendering of the “new and improved” Dream Playground.

A rendering of the “new and improved” Dream Playground.

The facility first opened at 302 S. Race St. on Sept. 11, 2002, one year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“Our original plan was an Amish barn raising-style community build, just as we built the playground the first time,” Dream Playground Foundation President Steve Methner told the Port Angeles City Council last week.

“Of course, that’s been delayed because of COVID, but we do have firm plans for June of 2021, and we are set to order our play equipment package.”

The council voted unanimously Oct. 6 to approve the $117,774 purchase of playground equipment from Play By Design of Ithaca, N.Y.

Real estate excise taxes covered $110,000 of the cost. The remaining $7,774 comes from community donations to the foundation.

“The Playground Foundation is actively continuing our fundraising and our sponsorships and our grant writing, and we’re doing quite well in our progress toward the overall goal of about $520,000,” Methner told the council.

“We definitely are planing to rebuild in June of next year. We definitely want to have a community event that renews the love and buy-in that the community’s had for the playground over the years.”

For some, Dream Playground had developed an unsavory reputation in recent years as the equipment has aged and the bark chips used for ground cover have deteriorated.

A child was pricked by an empty syringe near the playground in 2018, leading to an online petition to replace the wood chips with rubber matting.

The new playground will have a composite surface and better sight lines for parents to watch over their children.

Methner described the playground as an “important crown jewel” for the city.

Corey Delikat, Port Angeles Parks and Recreation director, said the playground equipment would cost 10 percent to 15 percent more had it been purchased in 2021.

“It was a really fun project,” Delikat told the council.

“The fun part was going and visiting the kids in schools and getting all of their ideas on paper, and getting to see them and talk with them. They had a lot of input.”

The volunteer-built Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles, shown Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, is slated for removal and will be replaced with safer and more modern playground equipment. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The volunteer-built Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles, shown Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, is slated for removal and will be replaced with safer and more modern playground equipment. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Council member LaTrisha Suggs recalled moving and spreading sawdust for the original Dream Playground with her son, Austin, in 2002.

“It was a huge community event, and this is amazing that we are going to be able to modernize and create this,” Suggs said.

“I think this is a great partnership.”

Suggs and other council members said they were eager to see the zipline.

“I like the climbing area over there, too, in the corner by the swings,” Suggs said.

“I did suggest maybe another spinning mushroom tea cup. There’s one out there, but those are pretty popular. You get dizzy, and the kids go flying off of them.”

Council member Navarra Carr highlighted the wheelchair-accessible swings.

“Thank you to the folks who were thinking about all the kids in our community and having spaces so that kids with disabilities are also able to play with their friends and family,” Carr said.

“I think it’s just so special, and it certainly doesn’t happen everywhere.”

About 75 percent of the playground’s elements will be Americans with Disabilities Act accessible, Delikat said.

“That was one of our main things that we looked at,” he added.

Mayor Kate Dexter said the playground is in a highly-visible, central location near Civic Field and Erickson Skate Park.

“What a great welcome to Port Angeles for anyone who’s coming and heading up to the (Hurricane) Ridge,” Dexter said.

“I can’t image why people wouldn’t plan to stop there on their way, or go hang out there before a Lefties game when we get back to baseball.”

The nonprofit Dream Playground Foundation was formed in 2002 to care for the playground and to raise funds for its eventual replacement.

For information or to donate, click on padreamplayground.org.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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