Playground at Raab Park to welcome children of all abilities

In early December, the Poulsbo City Council received an update from the Rotary Club of Poulsbo – North Kitsap on fundraising and design efforts to make a playground at Raab Park accessible for children of all abilities.

Play For All at Raab Park is a community effort to build a fully inclusive playground that the city first approved the back in January 2019.

The Kitsap Community Foundation was chosen to be a sponsor of the project. The NK Rotary Club had multiple Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s) that dictate the roles of the rotary club, the foundation, and the project steering committee and are currently working one on one with the City of Poulsbo.

A preliminary design of the playground area has been completed and at least nine pieces of playground equipment have been identified in addition to sensory and communication panels as well as the development of a sensory garden.

“This is the result of our own deliberations as well as discussions with community members at some engagement meetings that we’ve had where the community has come and given us some suggestions,” Rotarian Paul Vaughan said.

The City of Poulsbo released a Request for Information to gather indications of cost for the equipment and its installation.

A vendor has yet to be chosen for the equipment according to Vaughan.

The steering committee for the park project has expanded to eight people representing the various parties invested in the project. Additionally, the Local Professional Advisors Group has expanded to include Elsa Watson from the Bellwether Group, Susan Murray of Studio Hanson Roberts and Aaron Murphy of ADM Architects. Watson will be directing the fundraising campaign and grant-writing processes, Murray is a landscape architect who put together the preliminary landscape design and Murphy will take the design to the “next level” with detailed engineering.

On the fundraising end of things, the project has raised a total of $20,000 as of Dec. 4 with the bulk of the money coming from a grant from the rotary club itself of $8,000. Port Madison Enterprises granted $2,000, the Suquamish Tribe contributed $1,000 and $825 came from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.

“In an update, we recently … got a $3,000 grant from the McCaffrey Foundation,” Vaughan said.

The total fundraising goal for the project and preliminary costs is $800,000.

“I’ve identified that we now have a more sophisticated and extensive design than we had originally talked about a year ago in front of the council. It was partly prompted by additional suggestions from the community as well as Susan Murray’s excellent ideas to make the area more attractive and more functional … but it’s also increased the cost,” Vaughan said.

The hope is that the project will be completed in the summer of 2021.

Councilwoman Connie Lord shared her appreciation for the project as the grandmother of a special needs child herself.

“I am really excited about the opportunity for her and other children like her to have a place to get outside, be in a safe environment and be able to experience some swings, or whatever they are capable of experiencing,” Lord said. “This is so important to provide for the parents to be able to take their children outside to a place where they can be safe and secure and experience some of the same things that other kids that don’t have disabilities can experience.”