Kids, parents and community members gathered at Conger Elementary school Tuesday night to witness the unveiling of the design for a brand new playground in Moore Park.
The walls were lined with hundreds of designs that grade school students in the area had dreamed up. They were charming drawings of an ideal park in the eyes of a child.
The project for the new park is spearheaded by Blue Zones Project — Klamath Falls in partnership with the city of Klamath Falls.
A New York-based company that has built over 3,400 parks around the country, Playgrounds by Leathers, will create the park.
Jim Houghton, a designer at Leathers, was in Klamath Falls for three days interviewing grade school children from almost all of the schools in Klamath Falls about what they want from the new park. He took their ideas and created the design.
Now that the design phase is completed, Blue Zones has set out to raise the funding for the park’s $800,000 price tag. They will seek grants and fund-raise, with a goal to complete construction of the 20,000-square-foot park by spring, 2021.
Leathers parks are constructed by volunteers, so Blue Zones will be seeking volunteers for the effort during the fundraising process.
“We’re going to need thousands of volunteers to actually help build it,” Merritt Driscoll, executive director of Blue Zones Project — Klamath Falls, said.
The evening was started off by a couple of songs performed by a group of children, the songs described the excitement for the new park.
“We need a playground, a special playground, to make us happy every day!” The children sang.
Houghton presented his design to the audience. He described in detail the fun that could be had in the park, he had the children cheering as he described the climb to the top of the tree house and the massive slide down.
Playgrounds by Leathers’ website says Houghton has years of experience not only in design and park safety but also as a puppeteer.
His skill in entertaining children was obvious as the kids “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” during his presentation. Even the adults in the room couldn’t help feeling like they really were there on the playground already.
The design includes several homages to Klamath staples, including structures resembling an F-15 jet, Crater Lake, and lava tubes at Lava Beds National Monument.
It includes areas specifically for younger children as well as for older, and it includes many exciting accessibility elements, like a wheelchair swing, all-access merry-go-round, and an accessible zipline.
“We [Leathers] were early leaders in accessible and inclusive play,” Houghton said. “It is one of the things nearest and dearest to our hearts. We love being able to create a playground where all children can play shoulder to shoulder,” he said.
“So you head back out to the parking lot, and as you get into the car you realize you forgot something. Any ideas? It’s not your little brother,” Houghton asked the children as they yelled out their ideas enthusiastically. “You forgot to tell your mom, ‘Thanks for taking me to the playground, and we can go again tomorrow, right?’ ” Houghton concluded.
After Houghton’s presentation, the design was hung on the wall for everyone to see up close. In the corner was proudly written, “designed by the kids of Klamath Falls, OR.”
Blue Zones is seeking contributions now and has several ways to donate. Fence posts and tiles can be purchased and customized, to be placed in the park.
Driscoll said anyone can visit the Blue Zones office, at 2701 Foothills Blvd., located inside the Herald and News building, or Klamath Falls City Hall at 500 Klamath Ave., to find out how to contribute or volunteer. Updates on how to get involved will also be posted on the “Moore Park Playground Redesign” Facebook page.