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Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - Workers check level of the runnels (small channels) that will direct a stream of water once covered with sand.Even after one had attended several workshops and open houses, it was difficult to picture the Westmoreland Park’s new “Nature Play” area, based on drawings and images of other “Nature Play” areas.


The textual descriptions of this project simply evoked an zone with piles of sticks, rocks, and sand.

But now that actually building it is well underway – it may even be open in September – It’s become clear that Westmoreland’s Nature Plan spot will likely be a spectacular attraction that will draw visitors from all over the city.

For example, “Rock Mountain” isn’t a pile of boulders – it’s more like a climbing structure constructed of fitted rocks, complete with ropes to help kids of all ages who are attracted to it to climb and belay down the side.

“Those boulders were recycled from the excavated area at the Johnson Creek Wetland area out near Foster Road.,” remarked Portland Parks & Recreation Capital Project Manager Sandra Burtzos.

“The design called for in this project has always been to make a ‘created nature’ area,” Burtzos told THE BEE. “Because Westmoreland is a highly-developed park that gets a lot of use, we needed to make sure that everything was very sturdy, safe, and – when the time comes – easily repairable or replaceable.”

With many things to climb on, slide down, swing around, and play in, the “Nature Play” area seems to provide activities for kids with every level of energy and adventurousness.

“It is specifically designed for active play,” Burtzos pointed out, “from the sandy Creek Channel with water pumps and runnels leading to the wetland on the north end – to the Forest Mound and Mountain Mound in the south end.”

As the project is being constructed, rising from blueprints to a realized project, Burtzos commented, “It took my breath away to see how it looks, as we're building this great big play areas with logs and boulders.

“Kids are just going to go crazy for this,” continued Burtzos. “Certain kids will be up for the larger challenges; others will be more wanting to play with the sand and water. There will really be something for everyone.”

Also at the site during our visit, inspecting the progress, was Adam Kuby of Adam Kuby LLC, a member of the project’s Design Team.

“I designed some of the elements, including the Mountain Mound,” Kuby said. “It is great to see it at full scale. I think this park is going to be rad! When it’s finished, people will see how we worked to infuse the whole play area with a sculptural, creative use of natural materials that visually express the joy of play!”

When the fence comes down, and that could be soon, the play will begin at this kids’ area in Westmoreland Park – a park area unique in all of Portland.

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