PUBLISHED: 3:59 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Collaborative community
Volunteers still needed to complete Twin Lakes playground
It's a rare, cloudless Friday morning in Juneau. Mike Goldstein, general coordinator for the Project Playground, is overseeing about 60 work crews, each handling different aspects of constructing a 20,000 square-foot playground at Twin Lakes scheduled to be finished in less than a week.

"Right now it looks like Disneyworld in a whole lot of different pieces," Goldstein said.

Photos by Amanda Gragert
  Quinn White runs screws through a bar of soap before tossing them into a bucket to be used in constructing the playground at Twin Lakes. The process lessens the chance of wood splintering.
"We've got a crew painting panels in a glacier blue color for the Ice Castle. It's going to be beautiful and really fit in to the landscape."

He said the area will be a Southeast Alaska play destination and could become an icon for the city.

Since work started May 15, organizers estimate that about 1,000 people have volunteered time to build the project.

"There's about 20 volunteers from the Coast Guard here this morning. It's great when you have people who have already worked together in teams because they move quickly," said Goldstein, himself a volunteer, who took time off from his job as wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

The governor showed up to cheer on builders last week. Other volunteers include grandmothers and teenagers from Juneau-Douglas High School, physicians, businesspeople and sailors from the U.S. Navy in Juneau for a week of R&R.

Chief Troy Olsen is the head doctor on the U.S.S. Bunker Hill. The Aegis-class cruiser was parked at the Coast Guard Station for almost a week after participating in Northern Edge exercises in the Gulf of Alaska. The cruiser left Saturday.

Photos by Amanda Gragert
  Christina Cox paints panels for the ice tower.
Before it did, Olsen said it sent at least 75 officers and sailors to Project Playground. He said people signed up while still at sea. He worked at the site for most of the week.

"We put up tents to shelter people from the rain. Some of our crew unloaded a semi-truck full of lumber and started putting posts into pre-dug holes," he said.

Under the guidance of an Ithaca, New York architectural firm Leathers & Associates, the children of Juneau designed the playground, the community funded it and the volunteers are constructing the fish trap, mining maze and other unique aspects of the play area.

The project's design capitalizes on Juneau's history and its natural surroundings. It also accounts for the region's rain. When they're completed, many of the site's structures will have roofs. The slides are enclosed.

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Volunteers work on a panel for the playground at Twin Lakes. Volunteers are still needed to complete the project. For information, go online to
Building the playground has led to an outpouring of community spirit. Many businesses have sent employees including Lowpete Construction, Alcan Electric and Gastineau Guiding.

The Knights of Columbus made a four-star dinner for workers one night, Goldstein said. Northland Services lent the project a truck and a driver. Organizers raised about $490,000 from the community to build the playground.

Construction is scheduled to be completed this Saturday. Goldstein said the project is behind schedule and needs more volunteers.

Anyone interested in helping can call 789-5247. Information is also available at