City seeking funds to complete playground

By Steve Guntli

 

City planners are hoping to raise $90,000 to finish the Marine Park playground project and are looking for donors to contribute.

The playground will feature a ship-shaped play set with rubberized flooring, a cluster of climbing boulders and an adjacent lighthouse-shaped play set. Deputy community planner Alex Wenger believes the park will be a huge draw for families in the area.

“Maybe I’m biased, but this will blow other playgrounds in the area out of the water,” Wenger said. “I think it’s much better than anything they have in Marine-Park-Playground2Bellingham.”

Most of the funding for the ship portion of the playground is already in place. The Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 (BBPRD2) awarded a $150,000 grant in July, and a response to an additional $50,000 grant request is pending.

The city of Blaine has earmarked $50,000 for the project in its 2015 budget. The city will also be installing additional parking space and sidewalks around the perimeter of the park.

The additional $90,000 would go towards completing the lighthouse component at the same time as the ship and the boulders. In the initial planning stages, the lighthouse would have been built several months after the ship was completed.

In August, spurred by parks board member Angie Dixon, the community raised nearly $30,000 to ensure the playground would be built this year.

The funds were not enough to break ground in the fall, and the project was pushed to 2015.

“That fundraising effort was really incredible, because they did it all through word of mouth, and without any fundraising tools,” Wenger said.

The parks board has since decided to recognize the donors with engraved bronze plaques on a retaining wall in the playground. Bronze images of seven different Drayton Harbor sea creatures, each inscribed with a donor’s name, will be installed on the retaining wall.

The size of the plaque and type of creature will depend on the donation. The smallest plaque, a 5-inch-tall representation of a sand lance, costs $250. The largest plaque, a 2-foot-tall great blue heron, costs $10,000. Donors who contributed the minimum funds back in August will receive plaques automatically.

Wenger hopes to have the playground open by late June 2015.

“We’re still on track to hit that target date,” Wenger said. “People are working very hard to get this done.”

Donations for the playground can be sent to the city cashier at 435 Martin Street, or by going to the park’s GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/bqrgdg. For more information, call 360/543-9979.

  1. I have several concerns about this project. First and foremost is safety. If the city plans to add parking spaces on the north side of Marine Drive, then the playground will be pushed even closer to the seawall on the north side. How will children be protected from falling onto the rocks? Even with added spaces, parking will be a problem. Consequently, there will be a lot of pedestrian traffic across Marine Drive as people use the marina’s parking lot. My second concern is feasibility. Who, besides locals, does the city think will visit a playground at that location? Bellingham has several large playgrounds, including one that looks like a ship. Lynden has a playground that is bigger and better than any other in Whatcom County. I can’t imagine very many Canadians will stop on their way to the outlet malls. My last concern is, priority. Blaine desperately needs to revitalize its downtown, clean up derelict properties, and increase staffing in its police and public works departments. So why has a playground become the clarion call for public spending? A playground might be a fantasy land for kids, but Blaine needs a grownup reality check.

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