Park district board examines options for Castle Park

LANGLEY — South Whidbey Parks & Recreation board members are still struggling over Castle Park.

Questions remain. Should they maintain the current wooden structure and hope for the best? Replace parts when they wear out? Or tear it down and rebuild it with a plastic playground?

Funding for the $300,000 project was included in the $1.6 million bond approved by voters in February. But community interest in what happens to Castle Park — an expansive wooden playground built with massive amounts of volunteer help in 1991 — is high. Some in the South End community have expressed concern over an early suggestion to tear down the structure and replace it with a similar castle-themed playground made of recycled plastic.

Park commissioners said the structure will need to be replaced at some point due to safety factors and concerns over the longevity of a wood structure.

Board members are considering several alternate solutions, but Park Commissioner Linda Kast said no decisions have been made.

“We’re still trying to figure out what to do,” she said.

District officials heard from two companies that build playgrounds last week.

Clark Olson, owner of Architecreation of Seattle, proposed a recycled plastic and metal structure.

Olson told board members the company makes municipal-grade playground equipment.

“We use 100 percent recycled plastic with a 20-year warranty and steel pipe, not tubing,” he said.

The company’s factory in Vancouver, Wash. uses a high-pressure extruded plastic that is colored to suit the client. Olson showed off a six-by-six-foot section that vaguely resembled a piece of cedar, attached to a dark green powder-coated pipe by a stainless steel screw.

Olson said the total cost, including materials, labor, site management and installation would be $293,000.

The estimate does not include demolition of the existing park.

Carmen James from Site Lines in Everett also presented a playground proposal. James displayed a similar material, but made of “virgin” plastic that does not come from recycled material. The decks are made of punched steel while vertical members are plastic and the pieces are held together with child- and vandal-proof bolts.

James quoted a price of $281,000 for the complete installation.

Both companies said the price could be reduced if the park district could organize volunteers to help put the playground together.

A study of the existing playground last year found numerous areas of Castle Park that needed repair, but the park district moved quickly to fix the problems that were found.

District officials had earlier noted that the playground study did not examine every part of the wooden structure.

At last week’s meeting, however, parks director Terri Arnold noted that the current posts at Castle Park are good in the ground for at least another 15 years, based on an April 28 report submitted by Materials Testing & Consulting of Burlington.

“The biggest thing for us is to preserve the aesthetic feel of the park and we have more work to do on that,” said Park Commissioner Jim Porter.

The next district meeting is 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 18 at the South Whidbey Community Health Services building, 5475 Maxwelton Road in Langley.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or

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