The second week of work on the playground at Aquatic Park began Wednesday morning with some 80 volunteers on hand.
When the structure is complete by the end of this weekend, it will feature slides, swings, a jungle gym, garden, and a view of the Golden Gate Bridge overlooking Aquatic Park and the bay.
However, a lot of work still needs to be done to finish the new playground, and local organizers Mark Liolios and Zasa Swanson are stressing the need for volunteers this week.
“It’s all about a community activity,” said Swanson, the project general manager. “It’s awesome.”
The playground, located on the east side of Aquatic Park, just south of Bancroft Way, will be finished by Sunday evening. But the project is less than halfway done, and everybody is welcome to help, regardless of skill level.
“We’re a little behind schedule, all we need is people,” said Jeb Mead, who works for Leathers and Associates, the architectural group from Ithaca, N.Y., that helped design the project. “It all depends on volunteer turnout at this point. We can make it nicer and fancier (with more people working).”
Wednesday morning, the first volunteer shift began at 8 a.m. but people were already setting up for the day at 6:30 a.m. Madeline Wallen’s U.S. History class from Berkeley School helped out in the morning, as did workers from a San Francisco-based company that sells agricultural chemicals.
“I thought it would be a nice opportunity for us to get out of the classroom and do some cooperative learning in a real situation, where it really counts,” Wallen said. “(The students) can find a little bit more about themselves, about their work styles. We are going to talk about it after today, how they approached decisions and problem-solved.”
Not only will the outcome of volunteer work result in a brand new playground for the city, but volunteers are also coming together for a unique experience.
“It’s nice working with the community, everybody seems very friendly,” said Joe Edwards, a park maintenance employee for the City of Berkeley. “To see people come from everywhere and get along, I feel good about that.”
Volunteers are currently working on the basic structure of the park, which was given the name Dream Land for Kids earlier this month. Once the play structure is complete, gravel, wood chips and bricks will be laid on the ground and a small garden will be installed.
The playground was designed with suggestions from several hundred Berkeley elementary school students last November. It will emphasize the ecology of Aquatic Park, with an egret-shaped slide and the Butterfly-Hummingbird Ecology Walk Garden.
“The original concept was we were just going to have one of those out-of-the-catalog, off-the-shelf playgrounds, and we realized with the help of the incredible people of Berkeley, we could build something much more impressive,” Liolios said.
“We are hoping that all the community members within Berkeley with their kids, and teachers, and parents can all come out and use the playground,” Swanson said.
The project cost about $130,000. They have received grants, one from the City of Berkeley, as well as some $9,000 in volunteer donations. However, for the time being the real demand is workers, rather than money.
“When people come down and see what a unique project it is and how they can physically be a part of it, the donations will come later,” Liolios said.