The Kodiak Island Borough wrapped up construction on the new village playgrounds just in time for the beginning of the school year.
They started work in May and completed construction this month for a total project budget of around $870,000.
Borough project manager Matt Gandel says the original wooden playgrounds dated back to the 1980s and the borough replaced those with safer, weather-resistant metal structures.
Gandel says the communities got a say in how the new playgrounds look.
“Last summer – 2016 – myself and another borough staff member flew to every single villages and drove out to the Chiniak and met with the community members out there. We gave them options of things they could choose. Standalone pieces they could select and then a range of colors that they could pick. Every community picked their own colors. I think there’s three or four that picked Seahawk colors.”
Villages even incorporated common Kodiak industries by selecting different panels that go in the play structure.
“Some places chose a panel that looked like a plane because they have a lot of small plane flights around there. I think more than one shows the wheel on the top. Old Harbor was the only one that looks like it’s a boat. But several of them have wheels so the kids can pretend they’re actually driving a boat or flying a plane and things like that.”
Old Harbor was one of the last installations.
Jim Cedeno works with emergency management at the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor, and says the community has received the playground well.
“Children are really taking advantage of it. From the moment they completed installation, a lot of our children have been out there playing with it because there [is] a lot more variety of equipment for them to use.”
Gandel says the contractors will drop by the villages once more and fix some of the issue they noted during their final round of inspections. Other than that, he says, the playgrounds are pretty much complete.