PORT ANGELES — Plans will be unveiled today for the second iteration of the Dream Playground in Port Angeles.
The public is encouraged to bring their ideas to a community forum this evening to help shape the final product.
The Dream Playground Foundation and city of Port Angeles will reveal the conceptual design for the “Generation II” Dream Playground from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.
Games, music, snacks, refreshments and special guests are planned.
“We want as many kids as possible to have exciting ideas, and then we’ll incorporate that into the design and the effort,” Steve Methner, Dream Playground Foundation president, said Monday.
“And we’d also love parents and grandparents, and anybody else who wants to do something that’s really constructive and really gives you a good sense of your community, to volunteer to help out.”
The Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield at 302 S. Race St. was built in September 2002 in five days by more than 2,000 volunteers. It was one of the largest volunteer efforts in the history of Clallam County, Port Angeles Parks Director Corey Delikat said.
“This playground is a unique asset to our community, but is nearing the end of its lifespan,” Delikat said.
“We are excited to upgrade and rebuild our beautiful and unique playground into something even better.”
Generation II Dream Playground will have a new “pour-in-place” rubber surface, composite materials, improved wheelchair access and better sight lines and visibility for parents watching their children, Delikat said.
It will cost about $400,000 to improve the playground, Methner said. Construction is planned for August 2020.
“We’ll use more modern materials and some more modern ways of thinking about it, but we really want it to be volunteer-driven and volunteer-built,” Methner said.
“That’s what makes people love a thing. They’ve got some skin in the game.”
Delikat, Methner and other board members and staff toured the facility Monday with project manager/designer Laura Sehn of Play by Design, a consulting firm that helps communities build custom playgrounds.
Like the first project 17 years ago, local elementary school students provided input on what they wanted to see in the second iteration of the playground, Delikat said.
The student input will come to life in the final plan, Delikat said.
Methner said the two main components being changed are the sight lines and playground surface.
“The wood chips are going to go,” Methner said of the estimated 300 cubic yards of surface material, the lower layers of which have become compost.
“And then the other part is the sight lines.”
Methner said the “world has changed a little bit” since the Dream Playground was designed with nooks and crannies that are not visible to parents.
“While it was a neat part of the design at the time,” Methner said, “people are concerned about how much unseen activity people are able to have here, just because it’s got lots of fun little hiding places.”
A majority of those who responded to a community survey about the Dream Playground said they would like to see a new surface and to be able to see their children at all times.
“There are ways to do it now where you can still have a lot of structures where kids can be up in the air and running around and getting sweaty and yelling and having fun, but in a way that people see through as a caregiver,” Methner said.
“Or, if you have a group of kids with you, you need to be able to see these kids and those kids. So I think it will make it a lot more usable. That’s what people are asking for.”
Jason Viada, Port Angeles deputy chief of police, said the Dream Playground has places to conceal “the type of activity that people want to hide.
“I am aware that there could be some design improvements,” Viada said.
“As a parent, if I’m watching a small child play at the playground, I want to be able to see them all the time.
“As night time comes and the park is closed,” Viada added, “those nooks and crannies provide a refuge for people that want to go to the park and use it for purposes that it wasn’t intended.”
Methner said the idea is to re-design the Dream Playground so that a police officer on Race Street could see someone in the park at night.
The pour-in-place surface will account for about $120,000 of the total cost of the makeover, Methner said. A new wood chip surface would cost about $20,000, he said.
The rubber surface will be similar to the new playgrounds at Shane Park and Quinn Redlin Kintner Memorial Park.
“It’s what people want and I think it will be worth the effort, because we want this place to feel super great,” Methner said.
“We want it to feel playable and awesome and fun. We want grandparents and moms and dads and kids to really feel like it’s their place again and feel like it’s safe and awesome.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].