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Get ready to play

MEDFORD — Completion of the Olsrud Family Community Playground at Bear Creek Park was expected to be finished before the weather turned cold, but bundled-up youngsters should get ready to play on the new structure.

City officials announced they’re ready to put the finishing touches on the playground Saturday and Sunday — missing components that had been delayed because of a warehouse fire in Georgia have been received and are ready to be installed by a volunteer “work party.” The playground is expected to open next weekend.

The playground, which replaces an old structure designed by community children in the 1980s, was supposed to be ready for its grand opening in mid-to-late October.

Like its predecessor, the playground structure was built by local people working with architects from Leathers Inc. and city crews. It was financed by a series of grants, donations and in-kind donations of materials and labor, and local people rolled up their sleeves to put it together from Sept. 29 to Oct. 6.

Hundreds of volunteers worked shifts from morning to evening on the more than $610,000 project. The warehouse fire held up parts, including several plastic molded slides, a liberty swing for playground visitors in wheelchairs and a “spider bouncer.”

Since the volunteer-build week concluded Oct. 6, contractors and staff completed installation of fencing, asphalt and concrete walkways, and as many of the 4,600 surface tiles as possible.

Parks and Recreation Director Rich Rosenthal put out a call for volunteers earlier this week. Rosenthal said the city needs 40 to 50 volunteers of a more highly skilled nature to work from 8 a.m. until dark Saturday and Sunday. Several shifts are available.

Parks and Recreation volunteer coordinator Michael Mace said willing helpers had signed up to aid construction during the final two works days, but more are needed.

“We have a lot of people interested in volunteering, although we could still use a few more. On this phase we’re looking for experienced people as we won’t have as much time to work and show them how to do things as much,” he said.

Mace said volunteers, city staff and community members were “more than ready” for the final phase of the project.

“Oh, gosh, yes, we can’t wait for it to be over. We are anxious to have it finished so the residents can come and admire it and feel good about all the hard work that has taken place,” Mace said.

“There is a lot of interest in it being done,” Mace said. “It will be exciting.”

While a grand opening during warm weather would have been ideal, Mace said he expected a hearty turnout of kids — many of whom had parents grow up with the original structure — ready test out all the great features.

“It will be colder, but parents will just dress ’em up in warm gear and come on out, I’m sure!”

For details or to volunteer, contact Mace at 541-774-2483 or michael.mace@cityofmedford.org.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com


Olsrud Family Community Playground

Funding for the new play space at Bear Creek Park came from the Medford Parks and Recreation Foundation, in addition to more than $376,000 in contributions from community members and businesses.

Large donations included:

Robert and Frances Chaney Foundation ($10,000)

Oregon Community Foundation ($10,000)

Marlan Morse Foundation ($10,000)

Carpenter Foundation ($5,000)

Olsrud Family (undisclosed)

Customized playground fence pickets are still available for $100 each by visiting playmedford.com.

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