This summer, the three Yakima Rotary clubs along with Yakima Rotary Trust will join together to replace the love-worn playground equipment along the Greenway trail. The historic McGuire Playground is nearly 28 years old. Time, weather, and use have taken their toll, but the new community playground will entertain families for generations to come, and you can be a part of it!
Sponsor a fencepost for yourself, a family member, organization, or friend. Whether adding a family name or an inspiring message—be a part of the new Rotary Playground at the Greenway!
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Yakima Peak Rock Wall
Construction begins spring 2021!
The original McGuire Community Playground, a fixture on the Yakima Greenway, was built in 1994 by a group of volunteers. Spearheaded by the Sunrise Rotary Club, with substantial assistance from the McGuire family and area Lions Clubs, the Sunrise Rotary Park McGuire Community Playground was dedicated on May 15, 1994.
The idea for a playground was conceived in 1987, but in 1992 while physician Mark Uhlman was vacationing in Colorado Springs, Colorado he came across the perfect playground solution designed by Leathers and Associates from Ithaca, New York. That fall, Uhlman contacted Leathers and by October of 1993 its representative, Dan Burgevin, was sent to Yakima to give design presentations to area schools. Burgevin asked for input from students and incorporated those ideas into the final design. The playground was built in four days with donated labor for only $60,000.
Now, the playground has enjoyed 28 years of use and it is definitely showing the results of play and weather.
With their passion to serve the community, the local Rotary clubs decided to replace the worn playground. Jennifer Bliesner, President of Yakima Rotary, said “It only made sense that all the Rotary Clubs of Yakima including Downtown Rotary, Sunrise Rotary, Southwest Rotary, and the Yakima Rotary Trust would partner to rebuild it. Rotarians believe that by supporting playgrounds, we are encouraging healthy play and exercise in our community.” The Rotary Clubs contacted the original designers, Leathers, about building a new playground.
The first part of the new design again involves input from those who will eventually use the park—area school children. But, due to the pandemic, the design committee needed to find a different way to involve local students.
In cooperation with Yakima Greenway, over 1,000 design letters were sent to elementary school principals including Maria Lucero, Principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary; Julio Sanchez, Principal at Hoover Elementary; Hector Mendez, Principal at Roosevelt Elementary; and Mark Hummel, Principal at Robertson Elementary. Over 100 drawings were returned and sent to Leathers for the design phase.
On July 27, over Zoom, members from the three Rotary clubs and the Yakima Greenway board attended a presentation by Leathers.
Jim Houghton and Kyle Cundy from Leathers took ideas from 60-70 of the drawings to use in the final design. Though local students focused more on individual elements of the playground, rather than an overall theme, Leathers decided to incorporate each of their ideas into an agricultural theme.
The children wanted bridges, slides, a merry-go-round, a rock wall, and a teeter-totter. The designers incorporated each into the agricultural theme including a tractor and train, a rock wall they labeled “Yakima Peak”, and asparagus steppers.
Bliesner says, “With its highly visible location on I-82 near the proposed East-West Corridor, Rotary Playground at the Greenway will be a welcoming destination that encourages healthy play and exercise in our community.”
The three Rotary clubs have raised the funds for the playground and additional funding will be raised for land improvements to the area.
Yakima Southwest Rotary President, Martin Streich said, “We know the new, modern, and safe playground structure will be enjoyed and used by countless children and families for years to come. This playground will draw both locals and visitors to an already popular location in Yakima. We believe having safe and fun places for families to congregate makes our city and community a vibrant and welcoming place to live and play.”
President of Yakima Sunrise Rotary Sue Price-Scott said: “While it’s sad to see the removal of the existing playground that has been part of our community for over 28 years, Yakima Sunrise Rotary is proud to be part of the modernization of this destination playground that will allow new generations of children to enjoy the experience for years to come.”
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