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Our Playground: Going For It On Phase 1A

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 22 November 2013

 

After the Grand Opening on November 14th, 2013, students from B.F. Day Elementary played on the new playground equipment.  Photo by K. Lindsay

After the Grand Opening on November 14th, 2013, students from B.F. Day Elementary played on the new playground equipment. Photo by K. Lindsay

On November 14th, members of the Playground Steering Committee hosted an official grand opening to celebrate completion of the first step of the first phase of improvements to the playground at B.F. Day Elementary School.

While kids played on the new equipment, and donors sought their names on engraved boulders, the Steering Committee Chairperson (and B.F. Day PTSA President) Kristin Anderson acknowledged work still remains to be done.

An Improved Plaza

Over the course of three public meetings, a design was conceived – and drawn, with the help of Site Workshop – for a playground for our school, our children and our community.  The playground equipment, and basketball hoops, installed during this first step of Phase 1, are part of that greater vision.

At a B.F. Day Family Dinner gathering, Kristin Anderson (standing, right) talks about the Playground Improvements, and the PTSA.  Photo by K. Lindsay, Jan '13

At a B.F. Day Family Dinner gathering, Kristin Anderson (standing, right) talks about the Playground Improvements, and the PTSA. Photo by K. Lindsay, Jan ’13

The Steering Committee spent two years getting us to this point.  “It was just a group of parent volunteers doing this,” Anderson said of this effort to make improvements to the long-neglected playground.  The parent volunteers have been joined by school staff and concerned members of our community, and hopefully, together, the vision can continue to be realized.

The next phase is called Phase 1A, due to funding requirements, and focuses on improvements to the area outside the main entrance.  “The plaza in front of the school,” Anderson described, will be enhanced with, “some seating, some historic siting…,” and some more bike racks as well.

The work will also include completion of a few details from step one – a surface for the sports court and installation of engraved bricks purchased by donors.  This will be done with funds remaining step one, with the plaza work funded by a State Capitol Budget appropriation for community projects, sponsored by State Representative Richard Debolt.  These funds came at a very good time, Anderson admitted, “nobody has any energy for more fundraising.”

 

The final design for the B.F. Day Playground, developed by the community.  Drawn by Site Workshop

The final design for the B.F. Day Playground, developed by the community. Drawn by Site Workshop

They Is Us

While speaking positively about the whole process – and contributions made by dozens of volunteers and staffers – Anderson would admit to some weariness.  and she’s heard from by-standers who ask why ‘They’ haven’t done this or that.  “I’m not sure who they think ‘they’ is?” she joked.

‘They’ is us, or, rather, those who worked on the Playground Improvement Project, so far.  Yet, much can still be done, if new blood – and new energy – arrive.

When asked about Phase II, and beyond, Anderson acknowledged, “I think it will take a new group of people, and some serious fundraising effort.”  Site Workshop drew the plans of the public meeting vision, but no more of that work has been scoped out or defined.  “My feeling is that it is a couple of years out,” Anderson observed.

The wheelchair/bicycle ramp up to the playground from Fremont Avenue, the amphitheater, the public art installations, etc., remain on the table, but without new energy to push them forward.  “If there is some piece of the design people are interested in,” Anderson offered, “Go for it!”

The original area of the B.F. Day Playground in October 2011, before recent improvements.  Photo by K. Lindsay

The original area of the B.F. Day Playground in October 2011, before recent improvements. Photo by K. Lindsay

Beyond The ‘One-Time Commitment’

Right now, Phase 1A remains to be tackled – with a great community striving to get it done.  “The Department of Neighborhoods was great,” Anderson said, about the $100,000 Matching Grant that launched the project funding, “and having Carrie Bauer was huge.”  B.F. Day School Secretary Bauer lent a lot of enthusiasm, networking and liaison skill to the project, as well as taking an interest early on and being on-site throughout.

“The PTSA had to raise $100,000 for the match,” Anderson explained, about the DoN grant.  “We raised close to $70,000,” she acknowledged, “and money is still trickling in.”  Big donations, from private donors plus the Fremont Neighborhood Council and Fremont Chamber of Commerce, helped – but the numerous small donations also added up, and showed wider support for this effort.  Fundraisers done at the school – like the Penny Drive – shored up the effort alongside community-based fundraisers like the Fremont Gym-A-Thon at Anytime Fitness and the 2012 Fremont Chamber Wiffle Ball Tournament.

Volunteers from every part of our community turned out in September to help build the playground equipment.  Photo provided by the B.F. Day PTSA

Volunteers from every part of our community turned out in September to help build the playground equipment. Photo provided by the B.F. Day PTSA

Volunteers built the equipment and play area, with supervision, over a weekend in mid-September.  “We reached out to a lot of different groups,” Anderson said about how they got so many volunteers.  “It was a one-time commitment,” she explained, which might be why it drew in so many..  Groups like the Rotary Club of Fremont and Hallows Church gave volunteer sweat, along with spreading the word to those who might otherwise never know, or help.

Ultimately, “it was a lot of work,” Anderson observed, “but it was the nature of this project.”

For Next Summer…

“The intent is to go out to bid earlier,” for doing Phase 1A – the plaza work, “and to get it done next summer,” Anderson explained.  The playground installation took longer than expected to get to the build stage, with the need for Landmark approval (the B.F. Day School building is historic,) surveying and geotechnical reporting, etc.

While the Seattle Public School District has hard-and-fast rules about building on its property, Anderson found the District’s Self-Help Program, and its administrator Gretchen DeDecker very helpful.  She also noted that, “we all have some related construction experience,” about the Steering Committee, “but it still helped to have Site Workshop on-board.”

Looking northwest across upper entrance to new playground area, the boulders, slide, and a tree segment provided by Ballard Tree Service.  Photo by K. Lindsay, Nov '13

Looking northwest across upper entrance to new playground area, the boulders, slide, and a tree segment provided by Ballard Tree Service. Photo by K. Lindsay, Nov ’13

Site Workshop continues to provide services, and volunteers are still needed, to get the improvements done.  It is important to remember that ‘they’ still comes down to all of us.  If we want to see our school improved, and enhanced, now is the time to get involved.

If interested in assisting in improvements to this public play area – available for use by all Fremonsters outside of school hours – please contact bfdayplayground@gmail.com and, as Anderson suggested, ‘Go for it!’

 

 


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©2013 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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