People, tools needed for build

Dream Playground on track for May 15-19

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles’ Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield is set to be rebuilt between May 15-19, and organizers are looking for volunteers, tools and volunteers to help get the job done.

“We are definitely doing this May 15-19,” said Steve Methner, president of the Dream Playground Foundation, the nonprofit that helped get the original park built in 2001.

“We’re doing a community build again,” Methner said Thursday at a Port Angeles Kiwanis Club meeting. “It’s all going to be reconstructed by volunteers, and I’ve confirmed just this week that materials are going on the truck, the play equipment has been ordered and delivery is on schedule.”

The foundation’s website has a signup page with various roles and time slots for community members to volunteer. Many of the slots have already been filled, Methner said, but there are still workers needed particularly toward the end of the build period.

“There’s two types of volunteers,” he said. “We need willing workers who will do anything from check-in to help with meal services and shift change, to skilled workers who are the ones who are actually building the structures, and some of them are fairly complicated.”

Methner defined skilled workers as those with experience in carpentry and construction and general knowledge of the use of power tools. As the week goes on, there will be a greater need for skilled workers, particularly in the evening hours, he said.

The foundation also is looking for community members to lend tools for the week, particularly modern power tools.

The main structure of the playground will be rebuilt just as it was, but Methner said with the money the foundation has received, several upgrades to the park will be installed too. Donations to rebuild the playground started pouring in immediately after the playground burned, before the foundation found out that the city of Port Angeles’ insurance would cover the loss.

“(Insurance) is going to cover the cost of replacing what was there, and that’s a little bit of an open number,” Methner said. “We don’t know what that looks like until we’re done, but they are going to send 70 percent of the projected cost to us, so that would be $500,000.”

The project is estimated to cost between $675,000 and $700,000, Methner said, and if the foundation had chosen to have the playground built by a private contractor, the cost would likely be more than double.

The foundation raised about $200,000 in community donations, Methner said, much of which was donated before it was known insurance would cover costs.

“Anything that came in before we knew about the insurance we’re going to spend on updates and upgrades,” Methner said. “Funds that came in after we found out about the insurance, we’ll use to fund our endowment for future replacements and hopefully plant the seed for rebuild some day far in the future.”

Some of the new features include new play equipment, including equipment designed for use by children with disabilities. An inclusive bouncer, a trampoline-like piece of equipment that can be used by children in wheelchairs, is being shipped from Germany, and while it won’t arrive in time for the May build week, Methner said most other equipment should arrive on time.

The playground, which recently had been rebuilt in 2021 as the Generation II Dream Playground Project, was burned down in the early morning of Dec. 20 in a fire allegedly started by a juvenile, who has since been charged with arson.

Most of the play equipment and the foundation was completely destroyed and will need to be replaced. Significant ground work has taken place at the site recently, with equipment and man hours donated by local construction firms RJ Services, Inc., 2 Grade LLC and Clark Land Office.

“None of this happens without them prepping the site for us, and it’s a huge amount of work, and they just donated it all,” Methner said.

Following the fire, the foundation was overwhelmed with local businesses and community members who reached out to donate time or money to rebuild the playground.

“I have felt like for the last three, four months that I am running for a fly ball and every time I look down, it just keeps falling in the mitt,” Methner said. “And it’s because of this community. It just keeps making it happen.”

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached by email at peter.segall@peninsulanews.us.

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