After initial plans came in at a higher cost than expected, city planners working with Cascade Design Group have come up with an alternative plan for a playground at Marine Park.
Of four design options, community development services staff recommended option D, which would cost between $273,000 and $300,000 depending on contingency spending. The three other options would cost up to $391,000. The Blaine Park and Cemetery Board will meet Thursday, July 17 to decide which of the four options it will recommend to city council.
“They’ll be considering those options, looking at what the costs are and considering the park plan overall and how the playground would fit into that,” city planner Michael Jones told Blaine city councilmembers at their regular meeting July 14. “Their recommendation along with additional information will come back to you on July 28.”
The playground designs feature a pirate ship-like structure and rubberized safety matting painted to look like waves. The playground would occupy the space west of Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility on Marine Drive, and would include landscape elements such as trees and picnic tables.
Jones told councilmembers that a rumor about the removal of a large red leaf maple tree on the property to make room for the playground is unfounded.
“None of the plans include the removal of that tree, so we can put that rumor to rest,” Jones said.
The city is seeking a $200,000 grant from Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 but would foot the remaining cost for the playground. Park district commissioners expressed support for the playground at a meeting on July 8, but refrained from committing to a grant for now.
“We think the project is a great idea, but we won’t be able to commit to any sort of specific grant amount until we have our budget meeting on July 24,” commissioner Ted Morris said in a phone interview. “Once we have a better idea of our budget limitations, we’ll be able to proceed from there.”
In other news involving community play areas, the Blaine Community Center Pavilion project may receive a huge boost from professional basketball player Luke Ridnour and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.
The project is a shared effort of several community stakeholders including the Blaine branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County, Blaine Senior Center, the city of Blaine and others. The project gained ground in 2012 with a $25,000 donation from Blaine businessman Mel Hollinger and a matching donation from Rotary Club of Whatcom County North, but fundraising efforts were scaled back during the closure of Semiahmoo Resort in late 2012.
The multi-purpose pavilion would be large enough to play basketball and other sports, and would be open for groups to hold events. Ridnour announced in May that proceeds from his basketball camp coming up this August would go towards supporting the project.
A developing partnership between Ridnour and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation may result in a much larger grant. The foundation aims to build character and teach life lessons to disadvantaged youths throughout America through baseball and softball-themed programs. The foundation has assisted in the creation of athletic fields and parks for youth development throughout the country.
A spokesperson for Ridnour said the details of the partnership have not been ironed out yet. Look for a more in-depth article in next week’s edition of The Northern Light.