Steel Lake playground renovators pitch project to service clubs

Organizers are hoping to replace the outdated play structure (seen here) at Steel Lake Park with a new $21,000 disabled-access big toy.  - File photo
Organizers are hoping to replace the outdated play structure (seen here) at Steel Lake Park with a new $21,000 disabled-access big toy.
— image credit: File photo

The efforts to renovate the "Family Funland" playground structure at Steel Lake Park have moved forward, but the project is still about $68,000 short.

Federal Way's parks and facilities manager Steve Ikerd gave a special presentation to members of various service clubs in Federal Way outlining the project's goals and costs.

Ikerd said the playground structure — while still fully functional for all intents and purposes — has lagged behind in updated standards.

The parks department contacted Leathers, a company that specializes in playground structures, to do a full survey and a full assessment of Family Funland, Ikerd shared during the Sept. 11 meeting at City Hall.

"The report came back that it was in very good shape, and that we've been maintaining it well," Ikerd said. "All the pilings and support structures were very sound."

Ikerd said that renovation was suggested by the contractor, and that the city developed a few areas of emphasis.

"Number one, is obviously we need to upgrade to meet the current playground standards. We found a few standards, since 20 years ago, that we had to change," he said. "It came up that we should include new features to accommodate all abilities, including components that a wheelchair user could participate with."

Ikerd said the "educational" element of the playground structure will be improved with the renovation project.

With those goals in mind, Ikerd said they gave the information over to Leathers, which created an outline for the work needed to be done on the structure, including:

• Installing new facades and colors, along with a pirate ship and octopus maze

• Replacing all the chain hose systems with the industry standard

• Adding a new tugboat and climbing pods

• Adding a new dragon's tail bouncy steps, drawbridge and castle turret

• Upgrading all the slides from metal to plastic

• Adding new overhead spinners and a unique "Omni" spinner which all abilities can play on

• Upgrading the entire disabled/tot area to include a rocking platform a wheelchair can participate on

• Adding a 12-foot perimeter sidewalk around the structure, along with benches and tables

• Adding new drainage and safety surface materials

• Adding a new wheelchair feature called an "Ability Whirl." If this feature is added, it would be the first of its kind in the United States, according to Ikerd.

Financial needs

The reason for the presentation was to let the various service clubs and groups know about the approximately $68,000 shortfall in funding for the full renovation that would allow for all of the above elements to be incorporated.

According to Ikerd, the total cost is projected at $361,000. The city has reserves of $292,232 for the project, leading to the need for community support.

Dave Berger, a member of Federal Way Rotary and the city's parks commission, said that an additional $9,000 had been promised in a grant from the Rotary district, aimed at specifically purchasing the Ability Whirl.

"We were very fortunate last month to be informed we received a $9,000 challenge grant from the Rotary district," Berger noted. "We need to raise at least $9,000. And the estimated cost of the Ability Whirl, including its installation and the safety surface that goes around it, the rough estimate is about $30,000. That still leaves us short about $12,000 we'll need to fully fund the Ability Whirl."

Berger also pointed out that according to Federal Way Public Schools, there are currently about 2,000 students in the district with either a mental or physical handicap, which underscores the need for the inclusion of the features like the Ability Whirl and Omni spinner.

"There's thousands of kids with disabilities who would benefit from the (Americans with Disabilities Act) area, particularly the Ability Whirl, if we're successful in raising the funds," he said.

Service clubs in attendance included the Noon Kiwanis Club of Federal Way, Kiwanis of Greater Federal Way, the Federal Way Lions, FUSION and Reach Out Federal Way.

Ikerd noted that the city is set to begin receiving bids on the project this month and into next. If the timeline continues uninterrupted, Ikerd anticipates that the renovation could begin in November and be finished by April 2014.

Those interested in donating to the project or learning more about its general scope can contact Steve Ikerd at (253) 835-6911 or Jason Gerwen at (253) 835-6962.


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