Citizens seek high flying way to expand playground

"A group of former Parks and Recreation Commission members believe brilliantly colored banners will add verve to Celebration Park while providing the means to create a larger, more traditional playground there.Ex-commission members Dave Kaplan, Bob Kellogg Sr. and Barbara Reid, who have formed the group Friends of Federal Way, hope to convince businesses and community groups to chip in the $3,000 apiece needed to hang a banner in the park for three years. Each banner will display the name of the donor, up to 21 characters, in 2-inch type, Kaplan said. Five designs of banner will be offered. Two will feature sports themes, two natural habitat graphics and one a generic community design. The first businesses and organizations to donate a banner will get to choose their design while others will not. No one will get to choose where the banner is hung in the park, Reid said. We think it might serve as a catalyst to encourage other people to gussy up their retail areas, she said. I think it will be a catalyst once people see those banners lining the street. They'll knock your socks off.The group hopes the city uses the proceeds to install playground equipment that will knock off the socks of parents who have been less than satisfied with the existing equipment, which the city paid $15,000 for and installed in January, 2000.We've heard from people that (the equipment) while it's visually interesting, it's short on variety, Kaplan said. The commission always felt, Barbara and Bob and I always felt, it was not our idea of a playground. We want something more. City officials have heard from some residents who want more traditional equipment like slides and swings. That includes Mary Paterson, who said she initially mistook the steel equipment for an art sculpture, and Stephanie Collett, who calls it a monstrosity.Collett applauds the fund-raising effort to install more equipment, though she still worries about child safety if it is installed at the site of the existing equipment near the main road and a bathroom. The latter especially concerns her in light of the recent sexual assault of a child in a bathroom at the Federal Way 320th Street Library.Collett said she also wonders why a year and a half have passed since the park's opening without a better playground. You'd think one would have reason to believe a playground would be on the top of the list for initial funding instead of because people complained, she said. I'm happy to hear the children will get more and better playground. I'm still not understanding why that was not a priority for a family park.A few months ago, Deputy Mayor Linda Kochmar spoke of her desire to form a committee that would help raise funds from residents and businesses to pay for additional park amenities, including play equipment. She's still interested in forming such a committee after city employees figure out exactly how much land is left on which to put amenities.She applauded the Friends of Federal Way's fund-raising efforts. I think that's wonderful, Kochmar said. Barbara Reid is to be totally commended for that. (The banners) are very tasteful. The companies that will advertise with the banners, it's good advertising.The Federal Way City Council approved the group's plan on Tuesday. Kaplan, Kellogg and Reid hope to convince enough donors so that banners hang from all 35 of the light fixtures in the city's flagship park. They are aiming to hang the banners by spring, when softball tournaments begin.The Park and Recreation Commission will recommend how the estimated $85,000, minus the costs of the banners and installation, from banner proceeds will be spent. The commission will send that recommendation onto the City Council, which will make the final decision.But an expanded or new playground at the park will likely top the list as it's long been a commission goal. Money left over will pay for other park amenities, Reid said.Expanding the playground ensures a wider group of people use the 83.4-acre, Reid said. What it really is is a promise being kept, she said. We promised that park would have diverse uses. The criticism from parents is it hasn't been diverse enough in its use. "

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