Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Towering trees surround the site of the future Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles on Saturday. Fifteen trees at the site are slated for removal to make way for an updated playground.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Towering trees surround the site of the future Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles on Saturday. Fifteen trees at the site are slated for removal to make way for an updated playground.

Trees to be cleared for Dream Playground

Erickson Playfield to be closed Monday, Tuesday

PORT ANGELES — Fifteen trees will be removed from the Erickson Playfield on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the building of the Generation II Dream Playground in June.

The playfield will be closed both Monday and Tuesday for the site work and is expected to be reopened on Wednesday.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Towering trees surround the site of the future Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles on Saturday. Fifteen trees at the site are slated for removal to make way for an updated playground.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Towering trees surround the site of the future Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles on Saturday. Fifteen trees at the site are slated for removal to make way for an updated playground.

Cedars and firs that ring the playground at Race and Third streets — and a few that were never removed from inside it — will be taken out to ensure clear lines of sight and to protect the new surface, said Corey Delikat, city Parks & Recreation director, on Friday.

They will be replaced with smaller, non-native trees in at least a two-to-one ratio, he said, the goal being to double the amount of tree canopy in the area once the trees have reached maturity in several decades.

“Over the long run, they would have about twice as much tree canopy as would need to be removed,” Delikat said.

“It’s going to look different but it’s going to be so awesome,” he said.

At least 30 trees will be planted in October in the area after the Generation II Dream Playground and the Erickson Playfield Pump Track are finished, he said Friday, adding that it is possible city officials will opt for planting more than 30 trees once they can see the area clearly with the two additions.

The upgraded playground will be installed June 22-27 in a community build project organized by the Dream Playground Foundation. Sean Coleman, Lincoln Park BMX track operator, has told the Port Angeles City Council that construction is expected to begin in mid-August to early September with the track completed by early October.

The trees listed in the tree mitigation plan on the city website at cityofpa.us include dogwood, which grows to 20 feet tall with a 20-foot spread; Chancellor lindens — which can grow to about 35 feet tall with a 20-foot spread; Athena elms, 30 feet tall and a spread of 35 feet; Apollo maples, at maturity a 25-foot, slender tree; Norway maples, which reach 35 feet tall with a spread of 15 feet; and yellow witch hazel, small trees of about 10 feet tall with a spread of 10 feet.

Some of the larger trees that are removed may be cut with long stumps that can be carved, according to Steve Methner, president of the Dream Playground Foundation. Delikat said that two of the larger trees will be left at a certain height so that the carved stumps can greet visitors at the entrance to the playground.

“If you look at the layout of the current playground, there are trees that should have been removed in the original build.” Delikat said.

“It comes down to a safety issue,” he continued, clearing the space so no trees can fall on the playground and contributing to the fulfillment of one of the primary concerns of the some-350 people surveyed about the project: parents having a clear line of sight as they watch their children play.

Cutting the trees also helps to protect an expensive investment.

The wood-chip surface of the playground was another primary concern of those surveyed. The wood fiber play surface of the original playground made it difficult to see objects, such as keys that had fallen or hypodermic needles left behind by drug-users who were known to frequent the park after dark.

The new playground surface will be a short artificial turf designed especially for playgrounds that will make it easy to see anything on it, Methner has said. It also has a 10-foot fall safety rating, he has said.

The surface costs more than $200,000, out of $5456,000 for the entire project.

It needs to be kept clear of pine needles, branches and sap, according to Delikat.

“We want to make sure we are protecting our investment,” he said.

Conor Haggerty, owner of Sitkum Tree Service is donating the tree removal work, Delikat said. The city will donate the wood to the Kiwanis Club of Port Angeles, a major organizer of the Dream Playground.

The city will purchase the replacement trees from various agencies, Delikat said, adding that he does not now know what the cost will be.

Playground improvements include educational play elements, most of which will be will be Americans-with-Disabilities- Act accessible. It will have a larger central tree house, climbing features, spinners and a 110-foot zip line.

Methner said that sufficient volunteers have joined the effort to provide about 15 people per shift for the community build. There is room for up to 80-90 per shift, he said.

The original Dream Playground was built over six days in September 2002 by hundreds of volunteers and was one of the largest community projects Port Angeles has ever seen.

For more information on the Generation II Dream Playground, including the new playground design, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, see www.padreamplayground.org.

Information on plans for Erickson Playfield can be found on the Parks & Recreation website at cityofpa.us/161/Parks-Recreation.

________

Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected]

Reporter Rob Ollikainen contributed to this story.

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