Ventura Park gets awesome play area

Take a look, and see why this new outer East Portland playground amenities go way beyond a swing set and slide …

Playtime is now more fun in the Hazelwood neighborhood – as Ventura Park now sports a brand-new play area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

At an event Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) called the “Ventura Park Play Date”, on the afternoon of April 14, hundreds of people turned out to take in the new amenities – thanks to funding from the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond and other sources.

Kids were playing on the “giant mound” and on the active play structures and elements now found in the south end of Ventura Park, along SE Stark Street at 113th Avenue.

Watching kids use the new play equipment in sometimes unexpected – but fun – ways, is PP&R Project Manager Gary Datka.

“It seems that kids are naturally drawn to new elements, such as the “great mound”, which is covered with synthetic turf,” said PP&R Project Manager Gary Datka with a smile, as he watched kids climb up and find ways to use the “pole sliders” mounted on the east side.

This masked youth gets to work with the “Farm Pump”, to make water flow.

Jackson Swartz, Stella Swartz and Joey Swartz are ready for a ride on this unusually-designed basket swing.

“We also have some spinners, a rocker, and musical elements. The “farm pump” and water channel seem to be a hit with kids, allowing them to interact with water,” Datka pointed out. “Amenities like the water play area is important for everyone, including our immigrant and refugee communities.”

Kids join PP&R Director Mike Abbaté and Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the Portland Parks Commissioner, on the PlayWorld “PlayForm 7”.

An eye-catching structure called the PlayWorld “PlayForm 7”, which has a list price of $83,960, was temporarily installed last year in the the Portland downtown North Park Blocks by the manufacturer and by Design Museum of Portland – before being moved here, to outer East Portland, Datka said.

“Technically it’s ‘used’, but only for a couple of months, and mostly on display; it was received in partnership with PlayWorld and the museum, and was always meant to be here in Ventura Park,” revealed Datka.

PP&R staff smiled, seeing how different age groups use the play equipment differently, making the park a great recreational place for all kids.

Trying out walking on a strap on the PlayForm 7 is Felix Willmore – who appears to need no help from his dad, Fred Willmore.

“This project came in with about $1.1 million in bond funding for the play area, and we had an additional $300,000 for the newly-installed ‘Portland Loo’, and Portland Parks & Recreation System Development Charges of about $400,000 – all of which really brought us a nice park,” Datka told East Portland News.

Hazelwood Neighborhood Association Chair Arlene Kimura, speaking for herself, started off with a one word comment: “Fantastic!”

Kimura added, “Now, we have more and safer activities for youngsters – and look at the parents’ faces! They’re clearly delighted having this for their children.”

PP&R Park Ranger Dustin Meyer leads kids in the Junior Park Ranger Pledge.

After the official celebration of the park improvements, visitors are treated to mini-cupcakes.

“I’m so excited about the outcome of this ‘Fix Our Parks’ bond measure project,” said Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the City Council’s Parks Commissioner. “And, I’m so glad the Portland taxpayers decided tat we need to fix our parks and invest in them, making them better!”

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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