Even in the rain, parents rave about Juneau's new playground

Posted: Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saturday morning's steady rain didn't stop 21/2-year-old Owen Costello from having a good time.

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"I love to slide," he said before heading down again as other children climbed nearby equipment in the newly dedicated West Juneau Rotary Park. His mother, Julie Costello, said she was excited with the new surroundings, too.

"It's awesome," she said. She has been bringing Owen and his twin brother Elliot to half-acre patch of grass and playground equipment since she first noticed it in July near the end of David Street on Douglas Island.

"Another great day in paradise," Mayor Bruce Botelho said at the morning's ceremony, before the Juneau Jumpers jump rope team entertained the crowd. "We wouldn't have green grass without the water. ... Let this be a place of pride and joy," he said.

The Juneau Assembly authorized $165,000 for the park construction, said city Parks and Recreation Director Marc Matsil. The Juneau Gastineau Rotary Club contributed the benches, picnic tables and the barbecue. It also has committed to additional landscaping of plants and shrubs.

It's the city's 13th playground, and second park on Douglas Island, Matsil said.

The second phase of the park is planned to run down the hill, in an area currently covered with trees, filling up the entire 1.3 acres - nine lots - that Michael Grummett sold to the city at a reduced rate. But for the trees and the view of the Gastineau Channel and the Juneau skyline, multifamily housing borders the park.

Roger Grummett, speaking for his brother who was out of the state, said it was his dream to have a park on the land. The playground is dedicated in part to their parents, Grace and Stan Grummett, first-generation Juneau residents.

"We have fourth generation, and I'm sure he'll get out to play in the park," Grummett said.

After officials unveiled a new sign and cut a ribbon, and after the Juneau-Douglas High School Saxophone Ensemble finished playing, some stayed in rain gear with the playground to entertain them.

"This is really cool," said Joy Neyhart as her 21/2-year-old son Willem climbed nearby.

"The kids really need a place to get their energy out - it rains so much," said Melissa Goldstein who brought her 4-year-old son Koby from North Douglas.

Costello said "the toys" make it the best playground in Juneau for her sons' age group. Recalling the days when playground equipment was bolted in cement, she said she likes the spongy surface of chips from recycled tires.

She said she has already met other parents at the park and expects it will be a nice place to visit, rain or shine - a patch of green offering a peaceful view.

Juneau's newest playground has made the soggy summer more tolerable, Costello said. "In Juneau, you have to go and play with your kids when it's raining or not at all."

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