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New playground comes from community/government teamwork

3:00 pm July 19th, 2012

Just in time for summer, a new playground for children – inspired partly by kids – has opened at Frontier Park in Graham.

The official unveiling was on July 10. Piercce County, which runs the park and oversaw the process of funding and then installing the $270,000-plus playground equipment, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a celebration that included free food for the public.

The playground covers 5,800 square feet and features slides, talk tubes, a tunnel, overhead ladders, bridges, a crow’s nest, swings and a climbing wall. The colorful, recycled rubber ground cover beneath the equipment cushions spills by kids playing on the apparatus and improves access for all users. The playground, designed with access ramps for disabled children, is also the first in the county parks system to be fully American Disabilities Act-compliant.

Frontier Park, which also is the site of the annual Pierce County Fair, “is one of our most beloved parks,” said Scott Hall, recreation superintendent for the Parks and Recreation Department. “A lot of families in the Graham area have been waiting for the opening of the new playground with great anticipation.”

The new setup replaces old equipment that was installed in 1985 and was removed in September 2009 because it didn’t meet national safety standards. In January 2010, students in teacher Bob Hansler’s fifth-grade class at Kapowsin Elementary School and Sara Lamrouex, the mother of one of them, spearheaded community fund-raising to help pay for a new playground.

Calling themselves the Big Toy Team, they held a spaghetti feed and car washes, winding up with $10,000 in donations. That money was combined with a $125,000 grant from the Washington State Recreation Conservation Office and funds from the county to cover the bill of $272,717 for buying and installing the playground.

Hall praised the support from students and other community.members.

“They did all the small things. They really worked,” he said. “This is a true testament of partnerships between local community groups and government.”

That joint effort continued on the evening the new playground opened. Free hot dogs, chips and beverages for the crowd were provided by Apple Physical Therapy and were prepared and served by the Pierce County 4H chuck wagon. Organized activities for kids were presented by recreation workers, including Jen Spane and Jen Sergent.

Hansler and Lamrouex were among the speakers during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Others included county dignitaries such as Karen Ansteth, chairwoman of the Parks and Recreation Citizens Advisory Board, Parks and Recreation director Kathy Kravit-Smith, County Executive Pat McCarthy and County Councilman Roger Bush.

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