It takes a village to build a playground….
Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park was founded in February, 2013. It wasn’t long before the original board members began discussing priorities it would like to see happen at the park. One of those was a recycling program. The other was a new playground.
Lake Sammamish State Park already had two small playgrounds. The one near Tibbetts Beach is for ages 2-5. The other one, located in middle of the park between the two beaches, was built after a $20,000 fundraising effort by a Costco employee, with Costco putting up half the money. The design was a wooden timber structure, primarily for older kids.
Twenty years later, neither playground met today’s safety standards or were easily accessible for children with limited abilities. And the two playgrounds were not adjacent, making it difficult for families with children of assorted ages.
Washington State Park & Recreation planners told FLSSP that the playground was not a priority, but if the funds could be raised to cover the cost of design and permitting, they could get the work done. Kiwanis Club of Issaquah stepped in with the needed $20,000 and the project was underway.
FLSSP Board members first met with park planners and Sitelines playground designers in September, 2014. They outlined what they wanted: a “destination” playground that was both challenging and imaginative, served children ages 2-12, was representative of the natural environment of the park and most of all, it had to be fully accessible.
Sitelines’ theme is “if you dream it, we can design it.” The idea of a giant Blue Heron that sprayed passersby was tossed around
The final design was also the first design. It included the Blue Heron! It had something for all ages. It included environmental education and some local tie-ins. It was located near the new Sunset Beach bathhouse and soon-to-be renovated beach. And it was all-accessible.
Siteline’s Gary Max assured FLSSP that it would be the best playground in the state! The price tag was $1 million.
When first told about the playground, State Senator Mark Mullet offered to help. With a design in hand, Sen. Mullet submitted a request from FLSSP for $750,000 from the state capital budget. In June, 2015, the budget was passed, with the playground funding in it.
FLSSP set about raising the other $250,000 from individuals, corporations, foundations and local service clubs. A website, Playground4All.com, made it easy for online contributions. In-kind donations of gravel, topsoil, irrigation parts, surveying and engineering all were included. Donations of $1,000 or more would be honored with their name on a dedication plaque.
By January, 2016, the funds were within 95% of goal and the work proceeded.
The project went out to bid. Playground components began arriving and were stored behind fences near the site. Site work began in June. Sidewalks to ring the playground were poured and the landscape areas were sculpted. Sitelines began pouring foundations for the play equipment in August. Then the trucks rolled in, bringing the larger custom concrete playground pieces from across the country to Lake Sammamish State Park. A giant crane lifted the mushroom house and mountain into place.
Community Build Days were set for Aug. 24-26. Two hundred hours of volunteer help was needed to assemble the slides, swings, climbing net, zip line and more. So many volunteers turned out that they put in 300 hours while temperatures soared into the 90s.
Only one thing planned was less than desired. It was planned for 2/3 of the playground to have wood fiber fill. While deemed “accessible,” it was not the best it could be. FLSSP reached out to the Washington State Parks Commission and asked if they could find the additional funds for poured-in-place rubber surfacing, about $150,000 extra. They came through! The surfacing was completed in late September. Mountains to Sound Greenway and volunteers put the finishing touches with plants in a rain garden and surrounding landscaping.
A ribbon cutting for the playground took place Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. Donors to the playground were recognized and a donation boulder was unveiled. The first 50 children ages 4-10 were given souvenir scissors to cut the ribbon. And then the play began!