Next phase is in the works

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Westridge Principal Scott Lane poses by his school's new play equipment.When the first recess bell of the year rang at Westridge Elementary School this month, students could ride gleaming swings, coast down fresh, brightly colored slides and scamper up a plethora of newly minted, large climbing toys.

Laborers completed the first phase of construction of Westridge’s new playground on Aug. 30, polishing it off on Sept. 5 with a finishing touch — a piece of blue padding beneath the swing set.

“The students and the parents are all very excited about the playground,” said Chris Barhyte, co-president of the Westridge Parent Teacher Student Organization. The PTSO led the playground project with support from the Lake Oswego School District staff.

Seven $3,000 donor benches from families could be in place this week at the playground, and a sign honoring Pacific Wealth Group, which gave $5,000 to the project, could arrive by the end of the month, Barhyte said.

Phase I cost about $270,000 with about $30,000 from the school district to improve drainage, a dollar-for-dollar $70,000 matching grant from playground equipment company PlayCore, almost $80,000 from the PTSO’s fundraising efforts and $15,000 from the city of Lake Oswego, he said. The school board approved issuing a two-year, interest-free loan for the balance of the project cost after all revenue sources are deducted.

Phase II of the project tentatively could include repaving an asphalt activity area adjoining the play equipment, redoing an existing ball wall and adding a natural play area and an amphitheater, Barhyte said. The PTSO tentatively has planned to put in the new features in the summer of 2015.

“We’re going to revisit (phase II) this year to make sure we still want to stay on that timeline,” he said.

Westridge’s old school play structure did “not meet current safety guidelines and should be considered for replacement,” according to a school district report.

The school district’s safety report on the old playground, completed last spring, recommended developing a long-term plan detailing how to upgrade the playground.

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