Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - Having climbed to the top of the Rock Mountain, Clair Kennedy-Wong, Eden Gittler, and Luci Kennedy-Wong survey - and enjoy - Westmorelands Nature Play Area.The “Grand Re-Opening Celebration” for Westmoreland Park has been moved back to October 25, according to Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Community Engagement and Public Involvement Manager Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong.

“From 11 am until 4 pm, we’re planning lots of fun and interesting activities,” said Kennedy-Wong, “including a Native American blessing ceremony, native foods tasting, a salmon-baked tasting, and lots of family-friendly activities.” But in the meantime, the innovative new children’s play area, described in a previous BEE report, has officially passed its “kids’ test”!

It was on the morning of September 13, with sunlight filtering through the trees, when Kennedy-Wong’s children, and other kids whose parents worked on the Nature Play Area project, ran in to “test play” the unique new “Nature Play Area” playground’s features.

It was clear that even the toddlers didn't need instructions to learn how to use the Nature Play Area; they ran immediately to the features that interested them most. Some took to climbing stacks of logs; others to playing in the water and sand in the “creek”.

“I wish I’d had something like this when I was a kid!” exclaimed Mike Faha of GreenWorks, the landscape architect who worked with PP&R to design the project.

“Seeing it now, we are thrilled,” Faha told THE BEE. “It's exceeding what we first imagined – even from the very beginning. The scale feels great; it fits into a city park with sequoias.

“Looking around, I love all of the pieces that were designed,” Faha said. “And, it looks like kids know what to do, and how to play in it, because it’s not something complex or difficult to understand.”

He’s done similar projects, he said, but not on this scale. “We’ve done smaller versions of this around the state of Oregon, but not one of this size.”

Faha added that the approximately one-third acre project is much larger than any other similar projects within the city. “The location, and in such a high-profile neighborhood context – it’s going to get a lot of use!”

When the fences come down, and the October 25th “park opening” celebration is underway, the “nature play” can begin in Westmoreland Park!

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