Less than a month from now, a small army is scheduled to descend on the west slope of University Place. It will be a peaceful army with one mission: build the Playground by the Sound.
The army still needs volunteers to commit to at least one “building blitz” shift Sept. 20-25. Under supervision of Leathers & Associates consultants and volunteer coordinator Rebecca Vader, they will construct the 12,000-square-foot, handicap-accessible playground in the North Meadow of Chambers Creek Properties. Also needed are donations of materials, use of building tools, food for the workers and day care for their children.
When completed, the maritime-themed playground looking out over the Chambers Bay Golf Course and Puget Sound will be a spectacular tribute to the power of a few people to galvanize a community to benefit its children. And it will reflect the growing trend of using social media for more important things than finding a date or breaking out in dance at the local mall.
It all started with former University Place Mayor Linda Bird, who was looking online for ways to fund a playground for the southwest quadrant of the city. She learned about the Pepsi Refresh Project, which donates money to playground projects based on votes cast online, by text or on Facebook. Enlisting the aid of her tech-savvy son, Jonathan, and a slew of vote-casting partners, the effort was able to win $60,000 from Pepsi toward the playground’s $229,000 budget.
A total of almost $261,000 has been raised, leaving about $30,000 for a future picnic pavilion nearby and a maintenance fund. The playground – which local schoolchildren helped design – will be near restrooms and parking, and it’s easily accessible from Grandview Drive. Two elementary schools are within walking distance.
The fact that the site was available for the playground – at no cost to University Place – is yet more vindication for Pierce County’s efforts to fast-track development of the Chambers Creek Properties, a former gravel mine.
The public is already getting great use out of the Soundview Trail, the world-class golf course, a dog park and a bridge to the beach. The Playground by the Sound will be sweet icing on the cake. Thanks to all who are making it happen.
Go online to www.playgroundby thesound.org to find out how to volunteer, donate or “adopt” playground components.