AZALEA — Ahoy, me hearties.
Down by the water at Chief Miwaleta County Park, a new playground built to look like a pirate ship is now open for the business of treasure hunting — along with swinging, sliding, and climbing — to children who visit the popular park.
The playground is designed to accommodate children with disabilities and also includes a telescope and an alligator for climbing.
Douglas County Parks Director Rocky Houston said the pirate ship replaces an older, smaller wood and metal playground structure.
The county acquired the structure from Grants Pass-based manufacturer Playcraft Systems.
Houston said the county successfully applied two years ago for a grant from the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department’s Local Government Grant to complete the project.
That grant paid for half the $150,000 cost of the project and the county matched the grant with its own materials and staff time.
It’s an investment, Houston said, to help meet the recreational needs in South County with a structure that will have a long life and be low maintenance and usable by everybody.
Parks staff cleared the site, built a retaining wall and fence and completed concrete work for the project.
There were some delays related to COVID-19 in getting materials from the manufacturer that pushed the project’s completion past the original anticipated date in September, Houston said.
The pirate theme was chosen to honor the Glendale High School mascot, as well as the water-based recreation that makes the park a popular destination for fishing, boating and camping.
With the surfacing under the playground designed in brown and blue to mimic land and sea, and the Galesville Reservoir not too far away, it’s easy for kids playing on the structure to imagine they’re out on the water, he said.
A new pathway leading to the structure is designed to make it easier for children who use wheelchairs to transition onto the play structure, and wide, short stairs with handrails will help those with other mobility issues.
“The real goal is to be able to have all the kids get up on the ship, have the experience of being a pirate, coming down the slide, doing all those other things that they may not be able to do in another park,” Houston said.