PORT ANGELES – Despite a plethora of activities on the final day, the Generation II Dream Playground completed its scheduled six-day construction plan on Sunday. There is still a lot of work to be done but the plans are already in the works so the rest of the parts can be installed.
A shortage of volunteers over the course of the week made it difficult to complete all of the tasks.
On Sunday afternoon – the last day of the community building – a crane arrived to lift the tower roofs onto the scaffolding of the central play structures.
Steve Methner, president of the Dream Playground Foundation, which is responsible for its construction, said he was happy with the progress.
“We just had an exciting moment,” he said. “We’ve all put up the towers, and now it looks like a playground.
“It feels like new energy is flowing here.”
Dozens of workers braved unusually hot temperatures on Sunday in order to complete as many tasks as possible before the scheduled stop time at 5 p.m. Methner speculated that with the thermometer in the mid-1990s, many elderly people who would have volunteered might have stayed at home.
All that remained for Sunday was to do the detailed work to be done and then to button the construction site.
The playground fence and smaller play structures remained incomplete, but the heart of the park – a “tree house” with slides and spaces for children to run around – was finished enough to be rounded off with the roof structures. A pavilion and a second play unit were also given their roofs.
Methner said he and other board members were aiming for an extra weekend in July for volunteers to complete the project.
“It’s still a little bit in the air, but we still have a weekend, maybe a Friday, Saturday and part of a Sunday at the end of July,” said Methner.
Methner said he has plans for a smaller “strike crew” of volunteers to help bring the Dream Playground to an end.
“We’re also going to use strike teams to do some things that don’t require oversight or certification,” he said. “Benches, decorations and the like, so that we are as well prepared as possible for our second weekend.”
The Generation II Dream Playground replaces the original playground, which was built by volunteers in 2002. This mostly wooden playground was razed to the ground earlier this year due to maintenance and safety issues.
The construction of the new playground has been delayed from 2020 due to COVID-19.
The nonprofit Dream Playground Foundation raised nearly $ 600,000 to build playgrounds, with dozens of contractors donating workers and equipment.
Volunteer Laurel Hargis said the new playground would be a nice gift for the Port Angeles children and other teenagers who visit.
“I think this project is wonderful because the kids had a tough year because of the pandemic,” she said. “What a wonderful thing happened to you.”
Methner stepped aside for a moment after the last section of the roof had been lowered and secured.
“I’m pretty emotional right now,” he said. “It’s been a year of delay and a lot of obstacles, COVID and other things, but I also feel like there are a lot of great people living here who will ascend when it’s time to ascend.”
Workers secure the roof of a pavilion as a crane is used to lower it on Sunday at Generation II Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe / Peninsula Daily News)