PUBLISHED: 4:15 PM on Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Come out and play!

Left your mark on Juneau lately?

Well this spring you and your family have a chance to do just that, in a big and permanent way.

This May the community will put the finishing touches on Project Playground, the massive new recreation center to be located on Juneau's Twin Lakes.

Understand this is no small set of kiddy swing sets.

This is a full-blown community recreation center outdoors on the shore of Twin Lakes.

At first glance at the artist's renderings of the project, you'll think more of Disneyland than your school playground. There'll be tall towers, tree houses, a wide array of equipment - room not just for the kids to play, but for entire families to spend quality time together.

This is no small undertaking.

Total price tag is now estimated to be $475,000.

Estimates are that if the city on its own used taxpayer funds to build this playground, it'd be a $2 million project! The great news, once again a reflection of the degree to which Juneau takes care of its own, is that more than $400,000 has been raised.

The big savings comes in labor, in that virtually all the work to build the playground will be done by volunteers.

The playground is designed by Leathers Associates, a company specializing in helping communities custom design and build their own playgrounds. Leathers has helped communities all over the country design one-of-a-kind playgrounds, fitted to each town's history and resources.

Leathers helped Haines design its own playground some years ago.

As you may recall, Leathers began work more than a year ago, interviewing local elementary school kids about what they would like to see in a dream playground.

And if you want a vote of confidence, ask any local elementary school child what they thing about the project!

There are two places that local families and businesses can help.

First, by purchasing a permanent picket in the playground's fence, engraved with your family or business name.

Donations for families are $40 per picket, for businesses $100 per picket.

That seems a small price really to have your name one a permanent piece of Juneau.

The second contribution will be in sweat equity.

There will be two intense work weeks, May 15-19 and May 22-26.

The worksite is going to look like one huge beehive of activity as the playground rises literally before our eyes.

Remember most of the work on the playground will be done by volunteers. This includes everything from assembling components, to building fence, to providing meals for volunteers.

This is a wonderful opportunity for you, or your entire family, or even your entire office, non-profit organization or team to join in. Can you imagine a better team-building experience!?

For more information, to donate or to volunteer, check out the Project Playground website at For more information, you can also contact these Project Playground's partners: Bob Grochow, Parks and Landscape Superintendent, (907) 364-3388; and Joan O'Keefe, SAIL Executive Director, (907) 586-4920.

If you can't work, donate. If you can't do either, still plan to attend the grand opening which will be Saturday, June 19. And then plan to come out and play!

But please do take stock and see where you can help.

After all, how many places in the world and in your life do you have a chance leave a mark for future generations to see and enjoy?

Leschper is general manager of the Capital City Weekly and regional advertising director of Morris Communications newspapers in Alaska, including the Juneau Empire. Send him e-mail him at