Play areas: See the Y’s flying pirate ship! + Fairmount meeting

Two updates – first, the full story from Wednesday night’s meeting on upcoming improvements to Fairmount Playfield’s playground – plus, new play equipment that just arrived at the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) – gotta see the Y’s pirate ship in flight! Both stories, ahead:

First, the Y’s newest play equipment, arriving in style Thursday:

Photo provided by the Y’s Josh Sutton, along with the tale:

West Seattle Y’s preschool child care was in need of a new play toy. Folks at the Coal Creek Y in Bellevue connected us with this cool wood Pirate Ship. But how to get it here?

That’s where Lee Forte (WS resident & owner of) Pacific Rim Equipment Rental on W Marginal Way stepped in. His guys “shipped” it over from S. Bellevue, and even hoisted it in place today!

We’ll take a little time to anchor it down and make sure it’s ship shape before we let the little Pirates loose on it. (couldn’t resist)

P.S. We’ve all seen Lee’s handiwork before – PRER does the lights on the Guadalupe tree

Which will be lit a week from tonight (although first, you gotta be at the West Seattle Junction Hometown Holidays Christmas Tree Lighting TOMORROW night, 5 pm, 44th/Alaska) …

Meantime, Wednesday night, a small group gathered for the first of two public meetings on the plan to renovate Fairmount Playfield‘s playground. Most notable: A neighbor named Mike brought his own model of what he thought the playground could look like, incorporating some of the upslope natural area immediately to the east:

Much discussion centered on how to appropriately work in “imaginary play” – which Mike said his design would amply provide. Parks Department employees including Kelly Davidson and Pamela Alspaugh noted that the primary goal of this upgrade, funded by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, is to improve safety as well as access for the disabled – at playgrounds that haven’t received attention “for many years,” as they put it.

The budget for the project is $170,000 – about $120,000 of it for the actual construction. Parks says the timeline is for design to be done by the end of February, for the project to go out to bid by the end of March, and then ideally under construction April through August. That’s actually not much money for a playground project, they say, so they’re hoping to save money in a few ways, such as using “the existing containment area” as the footprint for the new playground, meaning that they wouldn’t have to put in new concrete “curbs” or a wall.

Old-school playground fans, take note – the old spaceship is a goner – so if you like that, be sure to visit it before next year’s construction project (it’s reminiscent of other old metal play equipment that’s been replaced during renovation projects such as the one at Alki’s Whale Tail Park).

There was discussion of perhaps a “ferry boat” type structure at the center of the play area, a small plaza area with picnic table and benches, something to make it “more of a welcoming area” as Alspaugh put it, possibly a low seating wall along the access path that will be added. The merry-go-round that’s there now would likely stay, and the teeter-totter would be replaced with something newer, in addition to “spinning seats” or “rocking seats” nearby. A second option that was shown included most of those same features but also a climbing net.

One meeting participant said he was hoping for something creative – he has kids from toddlerhood through high-school age and said he’s heartbroken because “current parks feel kind of IKEA-ish … the parks we used to have molded into the landscape, felt like they belonged there, lot of running and jumping and climbing … ”

The potential inclusion of synthetic climbing rocks was mentioned – “not actual rocks, but not plastic, either,” per Parks. They stressed that any features people are interested in seeing at the new play area – particularly if they are already in place at other parks, so a specific example can be pointed out – can be suggested via e-mail to Davidson and Alspaugh – and

Cost, though, will remain a challenge – the ferry-boat structure, for example, would cost $40,000 – a two-ton climbing rock would cost $14,000. (By comparison, they say a swing set doesn’t cost much more than $2,000.) Mike’s model included a lot of rubberized matting, and he even envisioned a faux shed near the merry-go-round that might “be a dangerous-looking place … where kids could sneak in,” as well as a maze of tall grasses.

The Parks employees didn’t think many of Mike’s ideas were feasible for their section of the project, particularly if some of the “natural area” on the east side of the playground would have to be utilized, but Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee member – and West Seattle community activist – Pete Spalding was at the meeting and urged Mike to consider putting together an application for a share of the Opportunity Fund money that the levy included (here’s our most recent report on that – the application cycle is about to begin, and an informational meeting is planned in West Seattle next month).

January 6 is the second and final design meeting for the playground project, 6:30 pm, High Point Library. In the meantime, Parks employees promised that the drawings shown at this week’s meeting will eventually be added to the official city page for the project – you can check that link here – it includes contact info for the Parks folks who would love to hear your thoughts on what to put into the plan.

1 Reply to "Play areas: See the Y's flying pirate ship! + Fairmount meeting"

  • KNM December 4, 2009 (2:08 pm)

    We recently moved from 38th Ave just 2 blocks from Fairmount. It saddens me to hear the rocket ship slide is a gonner. Why get rid of a good thing? My two kids used this weekly and never a safety concern was raised!

    If change must be made, may I suggest something similar to the play structure at Whale Tail park in Alki? That one is awesome and definitely lends itself to imaginary play.

    Please keep the same amount of swings!

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