There is still time for local volunteers to participate in a unique park-building project in Ferndale.
Riley Sweeney, the communications officer for the City of Ferndale, is supervising the project and couldn’t be more enthusiastic over the creation of Star Park.
“We’re really excited about this,” he says. “We think Star Park will be a real crown jewel for Ferndale. The period from May 31 to June 5 will be like a community barn-raising, except we’re building a park from scratch on 12,000 square feet just south of Pioneer Park.
“We want all hands on deck. We’re looking for 900 volunteers in all and there is literally a way for anyone to help, even if it‘s something like making sure we have enough lemonade.”
And who designed this park?
“The children of Ferndale!” Sweeney says, with at least two exclamation points.
Ferndale officials interviewed children in kindergarten, third grade and fifth grade, more than 200 in all, Sweeney says.
“We let the kids tell us what they wanted,” he says. “The kids had lots of different suggestions. We hired a consultant, Leathers, that helps communities design playgrounds, but it’s our own kids who actually designed the park through all their suggestions.”
All the park and recreational equipment has been ordered, but the installation will be performed by volunteers, more than 220 of whom had already signed up in March.
In all, Sweeney says there are 2,000 volunteer slots for various duties.
“We’re going to build this park, rain or shine,” he says. “People from all over the area are invited to participate and to use the park. We’re building a park that will last for generations. And this will be an accessible park for children with disabilities.”
Sweeney says when the children realized they were being asked about a park for them, they realized this was something special — so special there will be seven benches for parents to watch their children enjoy the park. The kids’ suggestions included types of slides, tire swings and pretty much everything they had ever seen in a park, including connections to the frontier themes represented by Pioneer Park.
“The kids were bouncing off the walls,” he says. “The only concern was from the teachers. They wanted to make sure this park really would get built and not be a disappointment for the kids.”
Sweeney is grateful for a state grant.
“The state stepped in to provide funding through a recreation grant, about $234,000,” he says. “We had already received $120,000 in local donations. The entire project will run from $350,000 to $400,000.”
Sweeney says anyone can volunteer, although parents of children 10 and younger will need to accompany them to the site. Officials sent fliers to the high schools and middle schools in Ferndale.
“Ferndale is the fastest-growing city in Western Washington outside of King County,” Sweeney says. “We think it’s a great place to live, work and play, so this park will fit right in. We think it’s a great way to connect the generations and to connect longtime residents with our many newcomers.”
TO LEARN MORE
Information about the Star Park project can be found at cityofferndale.org/star park. Riley Sweeney welcomes questions at 360-685-2353.