Downtown park coming

For years, Mary Ann Huntington has gazed along the Port Orchard waterfront and seen kids playing on swings and slides.

That is, she has always wished they were there.

By next spring, however, Huntington is more than happy to report her wish will come true.

“It sounds silly, but it’s a dream of mine,” Huntington said, explaining that ever since she was first elected to the Port of Bremerton’s board of commissioners, she has wanted to build a children’s park downtown.

“There’s no real park right downtown,” she said, explaining that when she first came into office 15 years ago, she approached several local organizations about her idea, “but they all had so many other projects they were working on.”

So her idea for a park was shelved, and left there for more than a decade. Then a few months ago, she said, members of a local club, the Soroptimist International of Port Orchard, approached her.

“They said they had some extra money and asked me if I had a project for them to do, and I said, ‘Boy, do I!’” Huntington said, breaking into a big smile. “And they loved it, and took it back to their board, and it was approved.”

Last month, Huntington reported to her fellow commissioners that the Soroptimist members had picked out the playground equipment they were going to purchase, and planned to have everything installed next spring.

“They are going to order it March 1,” she said, explaining that the club expected to spend about $30,000 total on the equipment, which she said would include a main apparatus for climbing that includes a slide, and a few “spinner bowls.”

Huntington said the port’s contribution will be the land for the park, which it owns, plus the labor involved in assembling the equipment. She said port employees will also be creating a raised, concrete border which they will fill with plenty of soft chips for protection from falls and scraps.

The only thing the park won’t have, she said, are swings.

“I’m a grandma, so I told them ‘I have to have swings,’” she said, but once crews began to map out the area — a flat, grassy spot just east of the Port Orchard Marina’s gazebo — they realized there would not be enough room to have swings.

Huntington is still overjoyed, however.

“It’s such a wonderful idea — we have the best view and best spot in Kitsap County, and we weren’t taking advantage of it,” she said, adding that she imagined parents being able to come watch concerts and other activities at the gazebo, and bring their kids to play at the park.

And, maybe, she said, those kids will grow some very fond memories of their town that way.

“I’m hoping that they will remember those times, and think of all the fun they had here, and then more of them might want to stay (and raise their own kids) here,” she said.

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