Students bring ideas to council for new play equipment at local park

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - With the help of Fairview Public Works Director Allan Berry, five elementary school students share ideas for a new playground at Park Cleone during a city council meeting.When asked what kind of playground they would like to see at Fairview’s Park Cleone in Old Town, third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Fairview Elementary School chose one that could be enjoyed by all kids, including the disabled.

With plans to revamp the old park this summer at 2063 N.E. 213th Ave., the city recently sent out a survey asking residents for improvement suggestions.

Fairview learned people used the park mostly on the weekend. People also expressed desire for restrooms, tether ball courts and all-age activities in addition to wheelchair accessibility and new playground equipment.

But of 371 Fairview residents contacted, only 27 responded.

So Allan Berry, Fairview’s public works director, decided to take the project to the people who love playing in parks the most — kids.

Berry met with three grades of classes at the elementary school to talk about play structures. Five youngsters were invited back to share their ideas at the Fairview City Council meeting Wednesday, June 5.

Bravely taking seats before the councilors, they spoke into the microphone as parents, families and teachers snapped photos.

“Park Cleone used to be awesome, but now it is just a field with swings,” said student Ashley Blegan.

The students chose from four playground choices, displayed on poster boards facing the council. Their favorite was one that was accessible to handicapped children.

“Kids with broken arms and wheelchairs can’t go on play structures,” said Sophia Schrader, but they can go on the one with handicapped access, she said.

“This new play structure can be something all kids can enjoy,” Schrader said.

Other kids expressed their excitement about a new playground right in their neighborhood, one that would “help keep us healthy and happy and safer than the last one,” said third-grader London Pettis, who lives next door to the park. Her family has watched Park Cleone change over the past 32 years, and Pettis is excited to be part of the park’s future.

“Kids will turn off the TV and video games and get more exercise by going outside,” said Travis Kelly, and “spend more time with friends and family.”

“Kids should go outside and embrace nature,” said Brenna Garrison, a fifth-grader.

And the bigger it is, the more people will have fun, Garrison added.

Councilors smiled as the children presented their opinions.

“I am for one thrilled to see kids here to say, ‘This is what we want,’” said Councilor Ken Quinby, who jumpstarted the project. He’s been working to push it forward for the past five months.

The plan is to have a community installation in mid-summer. An estimate for the project’s funding will come with a final decision for the project, Berry said.

As it lays now, open from dawn to dusk, Park Cleone has a covered picnic area with picnic tables, half court basketball, a pet-friendly (on leashes) lawn and a walking path.

It also has other unique features such as a raised boardwalk leading to a pavilion overlooking a small spring and storm water-fed creek, and it is the location of the city’s community garden.

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