Haines children are getting a new place to romp this summer, and the town is calling on its Southeast neighbors to lend a hand to make it happen.
Haines residents and volunteers from throughout Southeast will work for five days to build a wooden playground at Tlingit Park. Organizers are looking for three shifts of 100 people a day to work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on May 14-18. The park is scheduled to open May 19.
"We need a lot of volunteers," said Pam Long, coordinator of the Tlingit Park Recreation Project. Free child care will be provided, she said.
The project originated in fall 2000 to provide a safe and accessible playground for children under 5, Long said. The community originally planned to build only the playground but later decided to improve the park in general.
"We are making improvements to the existing park and adding the playground structure," she said.
The project is a cooperative effort by volunteers, the Haines Woman's Club and the borough of Haines.
Park structures replicating a Tlingit clan house, a Tlingit canoe and a glacier bear-themed tower were designed by Haines children, Long said. The park site is 66 feet by 120 feet.
New York-based playground construction firm Leathers and Associates helped design and will help build the playground.
The second phase of the park renovation - also expected to begin this summer - will include native plant landscaping, improved paths, a covered picnic area, bathrooms, more lighting, and a path around the playground.
The $425,000 project is funded by a 50-50 matching grant through the state Division Parks and Outdoor Recreation's Land and Water Conservation Fund. The community has raised about $20,000 for the project and will provide more than $200,000 in labor and donated materials. The grant gives the borough two years to complete the project.
The Haines Borough is donating in-kind labor, and the Haines Public Works Department will prepare the site for construction and extend utilities such as electricity, water and sewer lines to the new bathrooms, Long said.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at email@example.com.