City considers nautical playground in Marine Park

Published on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 by Steve Guntli

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An elaborate new playground may be installed in Marine Park as early as this autumn.  

At the Blaine Park and Cemetery Board meeting on June 19, community planner Alex Wegner presented a 3D-rendering of the playground. The nautical themed playground would include two custom pieces, a 65-foot-long ship modeled after the Lady Washington, and a two-story lighthouse. 

The city is planning on incorporating rubberized safety matting beneath the equipment that would be painted to look like ocean waves dotted with sharks. In its current design stage, the park could accommodate up to 300 children at a time.

The new playground would occupy the lot just to the west of the Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility building on Marine Drive. If the city approves the project and things continue to go smoothly, Wegner estimates the project could be completed by early October.  

The project would cost roughly $300,000. The city is seeking a $200,000 grant from Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2, and the city would contribute another $35,000 out of the general fund. The city would foot the remaining costs. The parks district commissioners will discuss the request on July 8. If the grant is approved, Wegner hopes to bring a proposition before the city council by Monday, July 14. 

Sheli Moore, one of five park district commissioners, spoke in favor of the project. 

“The commissioners and I were really excited to see this structure,” Moore said. “We really think this could make Marine Park a destination park.”

Local photographer Angie Dixon attended the meeting to voice the community’s support, as well. She suggested that the park could be an ideal destination for school field trips, scavenger hunts and marine education classes.

“We are behind this project 100 million percent,” Dixon said. “We are so excited – this is really what Blaine needs.”

Dixon, also the head of the “We Are Blaine” movement against the proposed name change, said several parents in her group have already expressed a willingness to do fundraisers for the park if the city needs the help.

The city could still be facing a few minor challenges to the project. Aside from raising the funds, the city would have to plan around or remove a large crimson maple tree that currently dominates the chosen lot. The city would also seek to widen some of the walkways around the park. 

Wegner does not feel that these will pose any major threat to the project, and hopes to see some community support for it in the future. 

“I think we could really accomplish this,” Wegner said. “This is not going to be a freebie, though, so we really need everyone to come out to the meetings and show their support so we can make this happen.” 

The parks board approved the proposal 4–0.