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"Proposed playground would be 'designed by children, built by the community'"

"Don't be surprised if sometime in the not-so-distant future a vacant piece of land in Silverdale suddenly sprouts turrets.Turrets seem to be the structure of choice for some children who've designed their own playgrounds, and might be again when about 100 elementary-age children get together in October for that purpose.The Silverdale Rotary Club is gearing up to take on the playground project over the next year or so, said spokeswoman Paulette Degard. Degard and Dale King are members of the club. They and playground project partner Keith Hazen are employed at Concurrent Technologies Corp. in Bremerton.They also hope to involve the whole community in the effort, Degard noted. It's designed by children and built by the community, but it has to be community-based, Degard said.That's one of the requirements by Leathers Associates, the Ithaca, N.Y.-based architectural firm that sponsors the park-building programs. Leathers Associates has sponsored 1,600 playgrounds nationwide, including four so far in Washington - in Shelton, the Tri-Cities, Whidbey Island and Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge's playground is still in progress.Silverdale's Rotary Club, which focuses on one short and one long-term project each year, is facilitating the playground construction.We're committed to helping this activity be successful, Degard said.Degard, Hazen and King have taken the first steps to getting the project off the ground, letting the public know about it and tapping others to serve on committees, said Hazen.We need community leaders to fill the following roles, including: general coordinator, childcare coordinator, children's committee, donated materials, food, fund raising, public relations, said Hazen.Although they're looking at a grand community event in April of 2002 for Construction Day (when everyone gets together for the actual building), some major events are coming up a little faster.Take Leadership Day, set for 3-5 p.m. Feb. 4 at Island Lake Lodge.That's when Degard et al hope to get their leadership teams for the committees together.But the big kickoff will be Oct. 8, Design Day, when they get all those children together to design their perfect playground.The 100 children to be chosen will include representatives from all 13 Central Kitsap School District elementaries, as well as homeschoolers and private schools, said Degard.They'll sit together, draw pictures, and dream about what would be a perfect park, said Hazen. Degard said architects from Leathers Associates will sit in to take note and conduct the meeting.Once that part of the process is done, the architects will take the drawings and come up with a design based on safety concerns, the amount of money to be spent and the size of the land.They'll talk to the leadership team of the community to get a sense of what they see as the cultural things they're trying to reflect, what the community wants, said Degard.Between now and then however, Degard and crew will be taking care of other details. Those include finding the land - they need 14,000 square feet in a highly visible area - raising the funds, and lining up donations of materials and volunteer labor.Organization Day, when the who, what and where of construction will be planned, is slated for January 2002.Hazen, who served in the Navy, hopes to get the sailors involved, particularly Seabees. We anticipate getting 5,000 people involved, said Degard.They've also tentatively talked about selling calendars with some of the students designs, and planks for the fence with donors' names and a personal message, as fund raisers. They expect the project to cost about $150,000. But getting started is the first step.For more information, or to volunteer, contact Degard by e-mail at degard@earthlink.net. "

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