PORT ANGELES — The children of Port Angeles have spoken and the designer of the next generation of the Dream Playground has listened.
Children gathered around Play By Design project manager Laura Sehn on Wednesday evening as she unveiled her drawing of what the Dream Playground — originally built in 2002 — will look like after it is rehabilitated next summer.
There were “oohs” and “aahs” as Sehn told the youngsters that the new version will sport a tree house, a castle and a zipline at the iconic Port Angeles park at Race and Third streets.
“When you look straight ahead there will be a grand entrance that welcomes you into the playground,” she said. “You’re going to go through the entrance and the first thing you’re going to see is a big giant tree house. It’s not just any tree house; it looks like a real tree.”
That tree house will have a “secret” vertical tunnel that kids can climb up and down through “just like a chipmunk.”
When they go through another net tunnel they will find themselves in a castle. From there they can see the gymnastics bars, a tightrope and a zipline.
There will be spinning toys — such as a merry-go-round that is wheelchair accessible — bouncy toys and things to climb on. The Coast Guard boat will move to a pretend fish pond and a garden is planned.
“One thing I’ve heard over and over and over again is line of sight,” Sehn said. “A lot of times playgrounds back in the day were built with lots of nooks and crannies and hiding places, which can be fun for kids, but not so much for parents.”
At the center of the park will be the area for the parents, who will be able to see their children no matter where they are in the park.
Parents applauded as Sehn told them that the new park will not have wood chips. Instead it will have pour-in-place rubber.
“They won’t be digging in it,” she said. “It’s not going to come home in your kids’ shoes.”
The rubber surface will be similar to the new playgrounds at Shane Park and Quinn Redlin Kintner Memorial Park.
Sehn said she developed the design by working with youngsters across the Port Angeles School District. Many of their drawings, which inspired Sehn’s drawing, were hanging up as Sehn presented.
“We take everything your kids say to heart and really think about what your playground is going to look like,” Sehn said. “You’re not going to see a playground like yours anywhere else in the whole world.”
Sehn outlined a two-week construction timeline that will take place next summer.
Steve Methner, president of the Dream Playground Foundation, said he was impressed with how well Sehn incorporated the many ideas that children had for the park.
“I am absolutely delighted by how many of the kids’ ideas she was able to actually put in there,” Methner said.
There were many ideas that Methner said he couldn’t imagine could actually be included in the design.
“I’m sure this will evolve over the next year, but it really is driven by our own kids, which is exciting.”
Methner said the plan now is to fundraise for the next year in anticipation of building in August 2020.
He said the playground will cost about $400,000 to $450,000 to build and that the foundation has about $120,000 in hand now.
He said the foundation plans to ask some donors to help out and will apply for grants.
The foundation plans to dedicate the park Sept. 11, 2020.
For more information about the project or to get involved, visit www.padreamplayground.org.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].