An excavator operated by Jad Groves of the Port Angeles Public Works Department removes the charred remains of the treehouse structure at the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield on Thursday after much of the playground was destroyed by fire early Wednesday morning. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

An excavator operated by Jad Groves of the Port Angeles Public Works Department removes the charred remains of the treehouse structure at the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield on Thursday after much of the playground was destroyed by fire early Wednesday morning. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Volunteers, donations pour in for Dream Playground rebuild

Businesses also pledge their help through proceeds

PORT ANGELES — Donations and offers of volunteer labor began pouring in Wednesday afternoon to rebuild the Generation II Dream Playground, which was destroyed in an early morning fire that day, said Steve Methner, Dream Playground Foundation president, on Thursday.

“We have a volunteer sign-up portal active as of (Thursday morning), and I’ve seen 20 signups in the last hour or so,” Methner wrote in a Thursday morning email.

The Dream Playground Foundation’s website (www.padreamplayground.org) has a section where people can “Sign Up to Rebuild the Dream” and a “Give Now” section for donations.

“With the interest (Wednesday) and the actual signups today, I’m conservatively estimating that we have 100 already, with a new one coming about every minute or so,” he wrote on Thursday.

“Thanks to great support from United Way, our donation portal was up and running by yesterday early afternoon.”

Methner said $16,000 was raised Wednesday beginning at 1 p.m. and that figure could be as high as $20,000 now, but he wouldn’t know until 6 p.m. Thursday. The $20,000 includes a pledge by Molina Healthcare to match $10,000 in donations, he said.

Christy Smith, United Way of Clallam County CEO, said the organization is donating its platform to allow the foundation to receive electronic donations. The agency will advertise the portal, collect the money, report back to the foundation’s board and then give them the money, she said.

Several local contractors and equipment operators already had reached out to offer support and assistance when the time comes to rebuild, Methner wrote.

“We are also receiving encouragement from local service clubs, who want to be of help both financially and with volunteers.”

In addition to Molina Healthcare’s pledge, at least four businesses — Mix It Shack, Amazing Movers, Shear Elegance and Belle’s Boutique — have declared they will give a percentage of their sales through the end of December to the rebuilding effort, Methner said.

Marc Abshire, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director, said there was no coordinated effort among the business community, but individuals are starting to do fundraisers already.

“The business community will step forward and get this done,” he said. “We haven’t had the time to develop a coordinated effort, but we will.”

The business community will work with the foundation after the holidays, Abshire said, adding that he hoped it would be bigger than before.

“We are rich if you count our volunteerism. We have people here who don’t mind rolling up our sleeves. The funding has to be there, and I think the business community will help with that, but also with more labor for sure,” he said.

Corey Delikat, Port Angeles Parks and Recreation director, said Wednesday night the city was able to secure the entire Erickson Playfield with fencing. The public works department crew members were removing structures completely damaged in the fire.

“That was our goal. Get it secured and get those structures we were concerned about out,” he said.

Now parks and recreation department staff will meet with foundation board members to talk about next steps, Delikat said.

“The foundation board doesn’t know everything, so we need to get them up to speed. We’ll get together and take a deep breath and see where go from here. The more we talk to people and get the message out, the more it will help in long run,” he said.

Delikat said the insurance has to go through the city’s human resources department, and that will take a while.

“We won’t know until after the first of the year. (Director Abbi Fountain) is on vacation,” he said.

The arson investigator finished at 2 p.m. Wednesday, which allowed a crew put the fence up surrounding the park, Delikat said.

“The site cleanup is why we will have to redo virtually the entire playground. We’re still just trying to get through the cleanup. We don’t know in depth what we are going to do,” he said.

“There’s nothing hazardous. It’s like any fire in your house, when you have smoke damage you have to replace. There’s some bubbling on the plastic, and that’s one reason have to remove it, even though it might look good from a distance.”

Delikat said one thing they have to do is replace the fall pad, a 2- to 3-inch plastic pad underneath the surfacing.

“Then there’s sand and gravel that have to be leveled out. So it’s all going to be taken out regardless.

“Like any other fire, it’s a demolition. After (today), we’ll let it sit until we figure out next steps. But there won’t be any hazmat suits,” he said.

________

Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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