Despite the contributions of some generous local donors, construction of the Marine Park playground project has been put off until next spring.
On August 21, Blaine park and cemetery boardmembers recommended that Blaine City Council push back the project until spring. Angie Dixon, a newcomer on the board, had been soliciting donations to raise $50,000 needed to fill a hole in the nautical-themed playground’s construction budget.
As of August 21, Dixon had managed to raise $28,000, $10,000 of which had been approved by the Blaine Chamber of Commerce in a meeting that concluded mere moments before the park board voted to postpone.
Nevertheless, the donations were still shy of the $285,000 total needed to complete the first phase of the project this fall. The board discussed asking city council to cover the shortfall, but ended up deciding 6-0 to recommend delaying the park (commissioner John Yost was absent).
One advantage of delaying construction is that the city could complete the entire project once construction gets underway. Had construction started this fall, only the first phase, incorporating a large ship-themed playground, rubber safety matting and climbing boulders, would have been completed. The second phase included a lighthouse-themed play set. Waiting until the spring would allow the project to fully constructed, said Blaine community planner Alex Wenger.
Both Wenger and the board expressed concern that construction would end up taking place during inclement late-fall weather, which would both impede installation of the safety matting beneath the play set and limit the amount of use the playground would get before the cold and rainy season.
“The last thing we’d want is an amazing-looking playground that’s roped off for the winter,” Wenger said. “That would be a disaster.”
“I think we need to be prudent and put off the decision until we’re sure we can do it right,” added boardmember Janet Pickard. “Otherwise we open ourselves up to criticism.”
Boardmember Tiiu Kuuskmann suggested going to the city council to propose a donation-matching program which, if approved, would essentially double the nearly $30,000 that Dixon has managed to raise. Wenger went one step further and suggested bringing the same proposal before the Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2, effectively tripling the donations.
The current estimated price for completing both phases of the Marine Park project is approximately $365,000. Wenger said it is a possibility that the estimate will raise to reflect 2015 inflation, but the city will attempt to keep the price locked in its negotiations with the contractors.
Dixon said she wanted to ensure that the people and businesses who donated in the hopes of seeing the park built this fall would know that their investment is still going towards something worthwhile.
“A lot of these people dug into their pockets to see this thing happen sooner rather than later, and I want to make sure they’re being acknowledged for everything they’ve done,” Dixon said.