Options narrow for Imagination Station replacement
UPDATE: The Troutdale City Council has rejected both designs and will issue a new request for bids. More information is available on our homepage:
Two contenders are left in the ring as the Troutdale City Council weighs competing proposals for the rebuild of Imagination Station playground.
From a field of eight companies and 11 distinct designs, only blueprints by Play By Design and GameTime have gained enough traction from the elected officials who must ultimately select a winner.
Originally constructed in 1994 by hundreds of community volunteers, the beloved "fort"-style wooden structure was set ablaze in April 2016 by at least two arsonists, who remain at large.
Troutdale City Hall voted to replace the entire playground, located at 900 S.W. Cherry Park Road, just west of Reynolds High School last August. Since then, East Multnomah County children have continued to frolic on the remaining two-thirds of the structure.
A special city council meeting held Tuesday, June 6, clocked in at nearly three hours but failed to produce a definitive design. Councilors settled on the first of two proposals originally submitted by GameTime, and decided to remove a wheelchair swing from the Play By Design submittal. A third option, by Buell Recreation, also was knocked out of the running.
At the end of the meeting, Mayor Casey Ryan directed city staff to check references, maintenance records and call other parks departments for their experience with the brands after the check has cleared.
A final report is expected at the Tuesday, June 20, regular City Council meeting. Until then, read on for a look at both designs, and who's supporting each side:
Play By Design
Description: This plastic lumber build apes many aspects of the original Imagination Station, including the stockade-like feel of the platforms and lookouts connected by ramps, and also provides a separate play area for younger children. A zip line, stainless-steel slide and merry-go-round for all ability levels are also listed in the company's bid.
Who likes it: Former Mayor Doug Daoust, whose political career was kickstarted after he coordinated construction of the original playground decades ago. A nearby soccer field in Columbia Park bears his name to this day.
"Play By Design is the only (proposal) that captures the magic. I'll call it magic because you have to call it something," Daoust shared. "This is the only destination playground."
Ryan McNaughton, an influential member of the city's parks committee, also came out in favor of Play By Design.
"You're not going to find another one like it," he said. "These guys have passion."
Who doesn't: City Councilor Glenn White, who has serious concerns about the longevity of the plastic wood product.
"(It's) a newer product, and we don't really know … what the life expectancy of it is," he noted. "It looks good when you first put it down."
Description: Symmetrical, frog-leg slides, a "sensory spinning wave seat" and a "Merry-Go-All" all feature prominently in this build. Rock-shaped stepping stairs and ramp forts connect most elements, with a pour-in-place rubber surfacing serving as the play area's foundation. Other features include a variety of swing styles and a faux rock climbing wall.
Who likes it: Councilor Dave Ripma, who said it was his first choice, along with Councilor Larry Morgan. Councilor Glenn White commented that a staff report ranked GameTime's proposal as fulfilling 95 percent of staffers' criteria, while Play By Design scooted by with just 63 percent.
"I don't want to go for the cheapest vendor," White said. "I think (GameTime) is going to get us off the treadmill of maintaining this thing."
Councilor Ripma mentioned the staff rankings, difference in the warranty and the difficulty of maintenance as swaying his decision.
"It's basically (the) people that work with special needs, versus passion," he said. "That's GameTime versus Play By Design."