PUBLISHED: 4:00 PM on Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Playing in Juneau
New park one of many opportunities for outdoor fall fun

Photo by Lee Leschper
  The city of Juneau and members of the Juneau Gastineau Rotary Club dedicated a new West Juneau Rotary Park on David Street Saturday. About 70 citizens attended the dedication and ribbon-cutting for the 1.3-acre park, which features new slides and picnic benches, as well as a climbing structure. Twins Simone and Beckett Matsil check out the new park, and also a very large canine visitor.
When the Juneau Jumpers arrived at the new West Juneau Rotary Park on Saturday for the grand opening celebration, they headed straight for the cable-climbing tower, a mass of metal ropes that looks like a spider's web and stands over a rubbery surface made of recycled tires.

The Jumpers, a rope skipping competition and demonstration team, and the Juneau Douglas High School band were on hand to perform at the official opening of the West Juneau Rotary Club Park-the Parks and Recreation Department's 13th playground.

Brazenly impervious to dark clouds and rain, about 70 people came to watch the jumpers, to hear the band, and, of course, to try out the new equipment.

The 1.3-acre park overlooks the Gastineau Channel and has new slides, and picnic benches, as well as a climbing structure.

The park came about through a partnership among the West Juneau Community, the Juneau Gastineau Rotary Club and the City.

Michael Grummet offered the city land at a reduced rate to build the park-in memory of his parents. Speaking at the event, Mayor Bruce Bothelo called the new park "the place for the community to come together."

The West Juneau Rotary Park is just one new possibility of several in Juneau for children to play and explore this fall. The Parks and Recreation Department launched its Start Smart Sports Development for tots ages 4-5 to learn about team sports in a non-competitive environment. Parents attend with their children, who will learn basics of throwing, catching and batting. Classes are held Saturdays at the Mt. Jumbo Gym and start in October.

Photo by Amanda Gragert
Older children should check out the energy at Aant'iyeik Park. Nobody needs a tee-time, but principles of golf do apply at this park with a disc-golf course running through it. For one, it's popular. On a recent rainy Sunday in September, about 16 cars filled the parking lot at the course at the park above Glacier Highway between the Auke Rec turnoff and Lena Loop Road.

Disc golf is a lot like the traditional game invented in Scotland, except players use specially made plastic flying discs instead of balls and clubs. They throw them for 'par' at an aboveground metal basket instead of a hole in the ground. There are different types of discs used for different purposes, much like ball golfers use different clubs, but all resemble a Frisbee.

Best of all, disc golf can be played with panache in the rain.

In 2007, the city, working with a group of BMX cycle enthusiasts, plans to break-ground on a BMX cycling course at Aant'iyeik Park. Volunteers from the group will construct and maintain the trail.

Looking ahead to other developments in the spring of 2007, plans are for the Jensen - Olson Arboretum to open to the public. The estate of Caroline Jensen bequeathed the property to the City last May for the primary purpose of furthering the study of horticulture, education, landscaping and gardening in the climate conditions of Southeast Alaska. It's located North of the Shrine of Saint Therese.

And construction is set to begin on the new Twin Lakes Project Playground early next year. The Alaska themed park designed by the community is expected to feature a fish ladder and other elements reflecting local culture. Similar to the new West Juneau Park, it will go up through a community effort. The city plans to furnish safety surface, and volunteers are donating time and materials to build the play equipment.