Ferndale to build Star Park for kids in a week - with your help

Star Park’s features, depicted in this rendering, include a rocket ship and treehouse. The park was designed with ideas from Ferndale schoolchildren.
Star Park’s features, depicted in this rendering, include a rocket ship and treehouse. The park was designed with ideas from Ferndale schoolchildren. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

The city is relying on the elbow grease of its residents to make a new park become a reality.

Volunteers will begin assembling Star Park, which will be the city’s largest park, at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 31. The work will run through Sunday, June 5, at 5 p.m., when the city will hold a ribbon-cutting.

More than 600 people were registered to volunteer as of Wednesday afternoon, May 25, said Ferndale spokesman Riley Sweeney. That’s about two-thirds of the 900 volunteers the city hopes for.

First conceived in 2013, Star Park was identified as a priority for the city, which had no dedicated playground for children, Sweeney said.

Funding from the state legislature for the park was denied until 2015, when the state Recreation and Conservation Office awarded a grant of about $230,000. The city will match the grant with more than $100,000 in local donations and volunteer time, Sweeney said.

The 12,000-square-foot park will go in just east of Pioneer Park.

“There’s a lot of new residents coming into Ferndale, and we’re a town that values our history a lot,” Sweeney said. “We wanted an opportunity for new residents and residents that have been here for generations to find common ground and make a part of Ferndale’s history together.”

To design the park, the city hired Leathers & Associates, an Ithaca, New York-based firm that gets ideas for park features from local children. Kindergartners, third- and fifth-graders from Ferndale schools provided ideas for the park’s design. Some ideas were specific, including a spaceship and a treehouse. Other submissions asked that there be plenty of places to climb, run and jump, Sweeney said.

The spaceship and the treehouse are both in the park’s final design. Most of the park’s features, Sweeney added, are accessible for those with disabilities.

A contest organized in April aimed to decide on a Metallica logo to go on a miniature bridge in the park’s design. The idea, Sweeney said, was to pay tribute to the Metallica graffiti logos that have for decades showed up on the side of the railroad bridge that spans the Nooksack River near downtown.

The city has since decided to paint “Ferndale” on the side of the playground bridge in the style of the Metallica logo that appears on the metal band’s “Ride the Lightning” album. Though no complaints were filed against the city, Sweeney said the change was made to avoid any potential intellectual-property violations from using the actual Metallica logo.

When it comes time for work to begin Tuesday morning, there will be plenty to go around, Sweeney said. In addition to building fence, drilling holes and assembling playground equipment, volunteers are needed to check tools in and out, serve food and do other tasks.

All volunteers, Sweeney said, will be fed for free. A variety of local restaurants are providing the meals.

Organizers also are in need of tools, particularly circular saws and power drills. Tools donated for the five days of work will be checked in and out, and replaced by the city if damaged, Sweeney said.

Volunteers should wear clothes that can get dirty, as well as close-toed shoes. A list of other frequently asked questions for volunteers, including where to park and other details about the shifts, is available on the city’s website at cityofferndale.org/starpark.

“The best way to ensure your kid can play in the park is to volunteer,” Sweeney said. “But we aim to have the park completed by Sunday at 5 o’clock, and I know we can do this.”

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

How to volunteer

Volunteers can register at the city of Ferndale’s website at cityofferndale.org.

Where: Just east of Pioneer Park.

When: Work begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 31, with morning, afternoon and evening shifts until Sunday, June 5.

What to bring: Clothes that can get dirty and close-toed shoes.