City takes concrete action on Marine Drive playground


By Steve Guntli

The city may not have all the money it needs, but it has more than enough to allow it to order equipment for the planned Marine Park playground.

On February 18, deputy community planner Alex Wenger submitted a purchase order to Portland, Oregon-based Buell Recreation, LLC and is tentatively scheduling a July 1 ribbon cutting.

He has hopes that the playground could be ready a little sooner than that. “You can’t be 100 percent certain with any construction project,” Wenger said. “But we’ve met with contractors who think they could do it by mid June.”

The city set a budget of $450,000 for the playground and is still short by about $40,000. “It’s not something we’re concerned about,” Wenger said. “We’re working with contractors on ways to cut costs and we can always hold off on things like benches and picnic tables. We can always put those in at a later date.”

Timing of the purchase order was important as the supplier had agreed to lock in 2014 prices for the equipment, but only if the city committed by late February. Funding came from community donations totaling $51,000, a $200,000 grant from Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 with another $160,000 from the city of Blaine.

The playground will feature a 30-foot model ship and a smaller lighthouse-themed play set. There will be sidewalk improvements and an increase in parking stalls.

The city is still accepting  donations from the public. Donors can purchase bronze plaques that will be installed in the playground. The plaques depict different ocean creatures and range in cost from $250 for a sand lance to $10,000 for a great blue heron.

“The big fundraising push is essentially done, but we’ll keep accepting plaques until there’s no more room on the wall,” Wenger said. “And even then, we’re considering spreading them out to the sidewalk. We’re hoping now that if people can see this is definitely happening they’ll want to invest in the park.”

Parks board members greeted Wenger’s February 19 announcement with enthusiasm. Chair Sandie Miller praised both Wenger and fellow board member Angie Dixon for their work on the project.

Dixon has been a driving force behind the fundraising efforts since the playground was first announced last summer.

“We really couldn’t have done this without you guys,” Miller said.

Wenger is hopeful about the possibilities the playground presents.

“This is just so great. This is something we can use as a marketing tool to promote the city and draw people here,” he said. “It feels like the beginning of something really neat.”

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