Project a combined effort of the community, school district and city

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Scott Dahme works on removing the old play structures at Westridge Elementarys playground.Just a few months ago, community members were struggling to find funds for the Westside Elementary School playground project.

But, the Westridge Parent-Teacher-Student Organization, school district and city banded together to make the project possible.

And last week, workers from the Sherwood-based Scott Dahme Construction Inc. razed Westridge’s play equipment to make way for shiny new, big toys. A Lake Oswego School District report said the old play equipment, some of which was installed in 1980, did not meet safety guidelines and could cause injuries to students.

Dahme won the contract with the lowest bid, $144,768, to excavate the old equipment, add the new toys and improve rainwater drainage. Dahme is scheduled to complete the project by Aug. 30. He said he is excited to install the playground.

“It’s going to be very beautiful. ... It will be a nice addition to the Lake Oswego School District for sure,” he SUBMITTED GRAPHIC - Westridge Elementary School parents have a clear concept for the new playground.

Westridge parent Heather Derosier, one of many community members who lobbied for the playground, said she is thrilled a major portion of it is scheduled for completion this summer, in time for students to enjoy it in the fall.

“It will really kick off the school year nicely,” Derosier said.

Other portions of the $335,000 project will be done as funding becomes available, including an outdoor amphitheater, a natural play area shaded with trees and an asphalt area with a new wall for wall ball, said Rob Dreier, director of facility operations for the school district.

For now, the idea is “to incur no additional costs” beyond the current bid, Dreier said.

The school board in March unanimously agreed to support the project that the PTSO created but not to fund it. Westridge parents again asked for funds, and in June, the school board agreed to pay $25,000 for drainage repairs and to issue a two-year, interest-free loan to allow the PTSO to finish its playground even if its fundraiser is shy of the project total.

The board said it would address the issue later if the drainage improvements go beyond the agreed amount.

“The (drainage) bid came in higher than we thought,” said Analeis Weidlich, PTSO co-president.

Dahme’s bid for the work was $28,500, included in the full bid price. The school board has not yet met to discuss how to address the $3,500 difference.

The two other project bids were $218,154 total with $35,194 for drainage from Portland-based COR Construction and $149,044 with $32,000 for drainage from Tualatin-based Parsons Excavating Inc.

“I kind of wanted that job, but Scott (Dahme) does a lot of work for the school district, and he does a very fine job,” said Gregory Parsons, owner of Parsons Excavating.

The city of Lake Oswego pledged $15,000; the Pacific Wealth Group gave $5,000; and playground equipment company PlayCore awarded a dollar-for-dollar matching grant of $70,000. Thanks to the grant, $61,000 in fundraising match dollars will equal $122,000, Weidlich said. The PTSO still is seeking donations and sponsors.

Weidlich said the fundraising success spotlights how much the community cares about its children.

“It’s a testament that parents are really committed to our school and making it a safe environment for our kids at whatever cost it’s going to be,” Weidlich said.

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