Red-tape trouble? Delridge playground plan may need help

At this month’s North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting (WSB coverage here), NDNC co-vice chair Betsy Hoffmeister reported a new development in the campaign for playground improvements in the area – instead of focusing on Cottage Grove Park, the attention turned to a proposal targeting the Delridge Community Center‘s playground. We got this update from her late last night – it includes some concern about the process, an offer of help, and the potential need for more:

Amazing things keep happening in Delridge! Kaboom, a national nonprofit organization, works with communities to help them build safe places to play. Occasionally, a corporate sponsor approaches Kaboom!, offering to fund a playground in a specific area. The organization helps the community group plan the playground, and comes in on one specific day and builds the whole thing.

In late March, Kaboom asked the Delridge Community Center to make a proposal to overhaul their 15 year old playground which, by the way, no longer meets federal safety standards. A donor corporation targeted the Delridge area, and the Community Center specifically and asked them to put together a proposal – by April 11. When the North Delridge Neighborhood Council (playground committee) heard this amazing news, we dropped our Neighborhood Matching Grant Proposal about Cottage Grove Playground, asked all the donors to switch allegiance to the Community Center proposal, and asked all the volunteers if they’d be willing to help out one mile north. Every single donor and volunteer agreed.

The Delridge Community Center whipped together a proposal which Kaboom really liked. Their advisory council recommended they apply to the City’s Small and Simple matching fund for additional resources, knowing they would need City oversight as the project is part of the Parks Department. They had less than two days to get a Small and Simple proposal together but managed to get everything together and get their proposal in.

On April 18, Kaboom had a conference call with the Community Center, representatives of the Parks Department, the SSCC, NDNC, and their advisory council. Kaboom was thrilled what they heard and asked for a second round which took place today, April 28. They as much as said as this proposal is the top contender. Unfortunately, the funding from the Parks Department, to cover the Parks Department oversight and the preparation of the site is far from certain. There are 74 proposals to the Small and Simple round from all over the City, with much less money available to spread around. The Kaboom folks were extremely worried to hear that the City wouldn’t be able to make a decision until after the Kaboom deadline. They called the NDNC (and basically said look, you are our top contender, it would be really sad if you didn’t get the grant because the City’s deadline is after ours) to ask if there was anything the neighbors could do … any way to come up with the site preparation/excavation without the city.

Amazingly, a neighbor who happens to be a licensed and bonded excavator volunteered to do the site preparation for FREE! We do not yet know whether the City will allow this company to volunteer their services to prepare the site. We also don’t know how we can pay the Parks employees to usher the playground designs through all of the reviews it needs to go through, and to oversee site preparation and installation. We are waiting extremely anxiously to hear from the City whether they will permit such an unorthodox approach. They have so many rules!

If you’ve read this far, you are a diehard Delridge Groupie. And you can ask yourself, how can I be helping make this amazing thing come true? And you might be feeling a little frustrated – why does the City tend to make things harder – here’s a golden opportunity to leverage a really big grant and upgrade a really needy playground really fast. So, what can you do? Approach any business that is not suffering horribly right now and ask them for a pledge – just a pledge – of $250, $500, $1000, or more. We don’t need cash in hand, we need pledges that folks will follow through on. Think about your tax return and see if you have a spare $50 (or $100, or $1000) to pledge. Go to the Community Center and sign a form stating you will pledge volunteer hours. Think if you know a licensed and bonded contractor who might be willing to donate excavation services. Imagine your vision of the Delridge Community Center with a new, safe, up to date, accessible playground for children of all ages, and respond to this with enthusiasm so I can send your responses on to the City, Kaboom, and maybe even our Councilmembers to ask for their help. Write to me with suggestions. If you are an artist or musician, think about how you could help hold an instant fundraiser for the playground to help us raise a few hundred or thousand bucks. (before you ask, we have a huge donation already from Nucor and from BECU).

Best case scenario – the people who need to respond, respond very quickly in the morning, and we have our answer right away, and they say “yes, of course the volunteer can do the excavation,” and then Kaboom is happy, and we’re happy, and it’s all good. But if Delridge needs help – and needs it fast – we need to know who is on deck to help out.

So far today, she hasn’t heard from the city – but you can e-mail her with offers of help, ideas, etc., at betsy (at)

7 Replies to "Red-tape trouble? Delridge playground plan may need help"

  • homesweethome April 29, 2009 (12:46 pm)

    Kaboom is an awesome organization – I hope this works out for the community!

  • Betsy April 29, 2009 (7:41 pm)

    Latest news is that the word from Parks is looking highly positive. We met with our contractor volunteer and they said it’s “a piece of cake,” no problem. so that’s awesome. We are waiting to hear from one other person to have the definitive go-ahead.
    We need minimum $750 to pay for a soil test, and possibly up to $4000 to pay for sort of random eventualities like renting a fence and a dumpster. Please, friends, I don’t have $4000 sitting in my bank account. Nor do I have $4000 worth of junk to sell at a yard sale. Who has an idea of how to come up with large chunks of change? $750 seems like NOTHING! that’s one individual donating $250 and one business giving $500! Who wants to help this playground become a reality? Come and help — it’s going to be great!

  • Bogie April 30, 2009 (5:33 am)

    Has anyone noticed the tree down in the park? I’ve been wondering about it since I noticed it. Looks like someone with a chainsaw came along, fell it, delimbed it, tried to cut it up and gave up. If it was the Parks dept. you would think it would be hauled away by now.

  • Betsy April 30, 2009 (8:26 am)

    which tree, Bogie? the old pear tree, or one in Cottage Grove park? I’ll have a lookie-loo…

  • Bogie April 30, 2009 (9:07 am)

    I have only seen it driving by. It’s easily visable from both Genessee and Delridge. It’s just north of the parking lot and wading pool.

  • Betsy April 30, 2009 (10:33 am)

    Amazing to think this could really happen in my children’s lifetime. We are very close to getting this grant. Update: we have $750 in pledges and potential pledges since 9:00 am yesterday, that’s pretty darn cool. We are 99% of the way towards approval from the parks department for using a volunteer company to excavate the site.
    The after school kids at the Community Center will make a huge poster to put up inside the building to generate excitement and enthusiasm and cute photos.
    Can any of you think of a way to make a long-lasting (laminated) poster to put up outside of the playground informing the public and asking for help? I don’t have a giant laminator personally but perhaps one of you is a graphics type and has access to equipment?

  • Sarah April 30, 2009 (11:31 am)

    The Community School of West Seattle fully supports the efforts of this community organized project-Outdoor play is more critical now than ever. Outdoor play encourgaes children to think creatively, use their imaginations and problem solve in a way that promotes higher order learning-if children could play in this way MORE many educational issues we see today would not be so prevelant.
    If you build it-they will PLAY.
    CSWS will pledge $150 to support these efforts.

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