by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Portland Parks & Recreation Project Manager Sandra Burtzos shows the plan for the Westmoreland Park Natural Play Area, now under construction. With an approved plan done, and the contract let, the Westmoreland Park Natural Play Area is now under construction.

Portland Parks & Recreation Project Manager Sandra Burtzos took THE BEE into the construction area, immediately west of the park’s famed casting pond, to see the progress on May 19.

“The different features of the Natural Play Area are set out as raised areas, or mounds,” explained Burtzos. “There is a functional reason for this: Keeping kids out of very damp wetland soil.”

Walking in from the west, near the restroom building, the main path will snake through the Natural Play Area. Most visible will be a series of prominences, including the Grassy Mounds, Creek Mound, Forest Mound, Mountain Mound, and on the east end, nearest the casting pond, the Grove of Giants.

“On the south side of the Creek Mound will be the stream that flows down through it,” Burtzos pointed out. “Sand will be on both sides of the stream, in which children can play. There are water pumps at the bottom and top, and gates they can open or close.”

Some of the features are being constructed from materials recycled during the park’s renovation, including cement blocks that were originally part of the concrete walls of the former duck pond.

The area will feature a plaza and a picnic area on a grassy prominence, under a canopy of trees. “All of the features will be ‘ADA accessible’,” she added.

The work is weather-dependent, Burtzos cautioned. “If things go well, we hope to have the Natural Play Area open by August.”

For more on the Natural Play Area, go online:

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