Play structure at Steel Lake Park will undergo renovation

Steel Lake Park is located at 2410 S. 312th St. in Federal Way. - Greg Allmain/Federal Way Mirror
Steel Lake Park is located at 2410 S. 312th St. in Federal Way.
— image credit: Greg Allmain/Federal Way Mirror

As the "Family Funland" play structure at Steel Lake Park approaches two decades in service, the Federal Way Parks Commission wants to make a number of significant improvements to the structure.

However, the commission needs some funding help to complete all of the renovations it hopes to see at the park.

"The city council has approved 80 percent of the funding we need to renovate it," said Dave Berger, parks commission member. "If we get the additional 20 percent funding we need from community donations and service clubs, we'll get an Ability Whirl. If we're able to do this, it'd be the first in the U.S."

The Ability Whirl is a toy made for wheelchair-bound children, and allows them to have a merry-go-round experience. The Ability Whirl also allows for caregivers and other children to be on it at the same time. One of the main thrusts of the renovation project is to get the play structure fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

Berger said the remaining 20 percent of necessary funding equals between $30,000 and $40,000. He said the Federal Way Rotary Club has applied for a grant for the ADA improvements, but that the grant is a highly competitive one, so there's no guarantees on that coming through.

Unfortunately for the parks commission, very few people have been made aware of the project so far. The commission had a display at the Red, White and Blues Festival held July 4, but "no one had heard about the project," Berger noted.

Fellow parks commission member Jack Sharlock has experienced the same lack of awareness, he said.

"I've asked people who are pretty savvy…they didn't know we were doing this. We want to get the public involved," Sharlock said. "This is for the community, to really help the community. ... This is (one) of the prime parks. We want to make sure we can do something really neat for the community."

The other improvements for the play structure include:

• Installing new facades to give color to existing features

• Replacing all chains and hose systems with new braided systems

• Adding a new tug boat and climbing pods

• Upgrading all the slides from metal to plastic

• Adding new overhead spinners

• Adding a new 12-foot-wide perimeter sidewalk around the structure, which will include new benches, tables and new activities panels

• Adding new drainage and safety surface materials

Berger noted that some of the existing activity panels on and around the structure are a bit dated for children these days, citing the fact that his 3-year-old grandson knows how to operate an iPad.

"Today's kids need more challenge," he said. "The reason we want people's input is there are a lot of different options, in terms of motion, sensory, and so on. We'll incorporate the favorites into the renovation project."

If the last bit of funding can be raised, Berger and Sharlock said they'd hope to begin work on the renovation in the late fall/early winter. While the renovation work itself would be left to the professionals, Berger said there would be volunteer opportunities for some of the "tear down" work.

Those interested in helping the project, financially or otherwise, can contact Steve Ikerd at (253) 835-6911 or email

(Pictured: The Federal Way Parks Commission sought feedback from residents Monday regarding the play structure at Steel Lake Park)


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