The last day to play on the existing Playground of Dreams in Kennewick’s Columbia Park is Thursday, September 13. Thereafter, the wood structure that has endured 19 years of weather and heavy use will be replaced with a modern one that is safer and allows children of diverse abilities to play side-by-side with their peers.
The rebuild will take place in two phases, with the first to be completed in November, when it will be reopened for use. The second phase will take place in spring 2019.
Volunteers helped remove the memorial pickets that enclosed and helped fund the original structure, and city officials have salvaged donated embellishments and sponsorship plaques. The original supporters will be recognized along with the new sponsors of the rebuilt playground, city officials promise.
“This playground was built by and continues to be owned by the community, and we intend to honor the contributions and memories that have been made,” said Kennewick’s Parks and Recreation Director Emily Estes-Cross. “To ensure future generations also get to make memories, the time has come to replace it.”
The new design will incorporate iconic elements and new features the community asked for during 2017 open houses and surveys, including a hydroplane, the cable bridge, a lighthouse and a Lampson crane. First phase components will be connected by ramps and the second phase of the site poured with a surface that can be navigated by users with wheelchairs or mobility limitations.
The city budgeted $325,000 toward the $1 mil. inclusive playground, and are fundraising for the balance. Private contributions total $180,000 to date, and a major sponsorship partner is being sought. “This is a highly visible attraction that creates a lot of happiness and impacts countless families,” Estes-Cross said.
To date, around 100 pickets have been requested and 40 returned to original supporters. An online claim form is available, and pickets can be picked up at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex during business hours.