By Brent Champaco
The News Tribune
A group of University Place boosters hopes to generate support – and money — to build a themed playground at Chambers Creek Properties.
The goal is to raise $200,000 to build the playground, which will be fitted with everything from slides and swings to a rock-climbing wall, by September. To date, it’s raised about $23,000.
The effort, known as Playground by the Sound, is one of amenities that could be offered at the 930-acre site owned by Pierce County. The others include a pedestrian overpass that will open up two and half miles of beach access and future off-leash dog park.
Jeff Allen, chairman of the group’s fund-raising committee, says the proposed playground is a local project for University Place.
Plans call for a 12,000-square-foot playground in the North Meadow area of Chambers Creek Properties.
The community helped produced the playground’s design. Last May, Playground by the Sound held a design day in which elementary students from University Place shared ideas about what they’d like to have in a new playground. The designer, Leathers and Associates of New York, then took the ideas and incorporated them into the design.
The community is also paying for the project without the help of public dollars, and it will help with its construction.
“When you get a chance to be something that’s part of a legacy, it’s great,” said Allen, a father of three children who lives less than two miles from the proposed site. “The playground is just one little stamp in the overall recreational opportunities at Chambers Creek Properties.”
The effort to build playground began about two years ago, as University Place and Pierce County began discussing how to develop the North Meadow area, which is located along the Soundview Trail, a popular spot for joggers and walkers.
Linda Bird, University Place’s outgoing mayor, got the idea of a community playground through interactions with residents. She was inspired every time she’d walk the trail with her grandkids.
She also says the city of 30,000 is underserved when it comes to playgrounds. Eventually she teamed with Allen and other residents who agreed a playground would be worthwhile.
Bird said a playground would help show residents that the county owned property – home to Chambers Bay Golf Course — is indeed a development for all residents.
“It’s not just exclusively a golf course,” she said. “It’s not just for runners and strollers. It’s for everyone.”
Leathers and Associates specializes in building community playgrounds. It’s built 2,000 across the country so far.
Some of the components of the Playground by the Sound include a Mountain Maze, an Alpine Triple Slide, a Whale Spring toy and the Galloping Gertie Suspension Bridge.
Residents can donate to the project by “adopting” one of its future components, buying a fence picket or simply giving money.
Mark Kahley of University Place, the project’s general coordinator, says the group is confident the public will help it reach its goal.
Given the rough economy and other factors, individuals and groups might be less willing to donate large chunks of the playground’s costs.
Instead, he expects the group will raise the funds in smaller increments, especially if residents realize how important the playground is to University Place.
“I still think our goal is easily attainable,” he said.
To donate or to find out more about the Playground by the Sound project, click here.
Brent Champaco: 253-597-8653