Organizers of a playground project in West Redding’s Sunset Terrace neighborhood are not looking for a few good men. They are looking for a whole bunch of good men and women willing to spend a day constructing a playground at a city park that now has little to offer besides a strip of turf.
Saturday, May 21, is the designated build day for Sunset Playground at TR Woods Memorial Park, located on Royal Oaks Drive about three blocks north of Eureka Way. Project organizers from Redding West Rotary Club, Active 20-30 Club of Redding and from the neighborhood need 150 to 200 adults to complete the playground in one day.
“It’s basically just been a piece of grass for as long as anyone can remember,” said Adam McElvain, of Active 20-30 Club. “Every kid needs a place to play. Get them away from the video games and get them outside.”
At first glance, the Sunset Terrace neighborhood might seem like an odd location for this type of charity effort. The neighborhood has been one of the city’s more desirable areas since it was developed during the 1950s and 1960s. Sunset Terrace’s demographics are nothing like those in the Enterprise area, where the 20-30 Club built a playground at Alta Mesa Park three years ago. However, Sunset Terrace has evolved during recent years and is now home to more young families. Yet the nearest playground is about one mile away – and on the other side of busy Eureka Way – at Manzanita School. The nearest city park with a playground is about two miles away at Caldwell Park. Neither is a good option for a parent pushing a stroller or an eight-year-old on a bicycle.
Active 20-30 Club considered its project at Alta Mesa Park a big success and has conducted about half a dozen events at the park since completing the playground. When club members asked the city about a new project, officials pointed to 45-year-old TR Woods Memorial Park, named for neighborhood developer Tom Woods. The city’s parks master plan calls for improvements to the park and gives those improvements a high priority.
“We have been talking to the neighborhood about that park for the last four to five years,” said Kim Niemer, Redding community services director. “That neighborhood has been turning over, and there are a lot more families with younger kids.” Last year, she noted, neighborhood parents and teenagers organized a summer play program and soccer camp at the park.
Members of Redding West Rotary and Active 20-30 Club have taken the lead in raising money and designing the project. To date, they have collected about $53,000, including $25,000 from the city. Other large funders include Shasta Regional Community Foundation, Redding Rancheria, multiple Rotary Clubs, Sierra Pacific Foundation and Redding businessman Joe Wong. More donations are needed to reach the goal of $65,000.
Organizers conducted a design day to solicit kids’ input back in March. Nasty weather held down the turnout to about 30 youngsters, but they were able to provide ideas both fanciful (pirate ships and unicorns) and practical (a rock climbing wall and a tire swing), according to Lucky Jesrani, vice president of Active 20-30 Club. Designers have accounted for some of their ideas, he said.
Organizers are asking build day volunteers to sign up in advance, either through the project website or by contacting Jesrani directly at email@example.com. Volunteers need to arrive by 8 a.m. for instructions and should plan to spend all day. The clubs will provide breakfast, lunch and other refreshments. Volunteers don’t need to bring anything other than work gloves and sturdy shoes.
Saturday’s effort will focus on a play structure, a swing set and a picnic area. “It’s the part of the project that gets everybody amped up and gets some exposure,” Jesrani said.
Future phases of the project are planned to include a shade structure for the picnic area, a combination tennis court-half basketball court, and a wallball court.
Niemer noted that the city has little money for park projects these days, as funding comes from new development impact fees and the city has not seen much construction activity during recent years.
“Without these volunteer efforts, our park development efforts would be at a standstill,” she said.
A grand opening and barbecue at Sunset Playground is set for June 4.
View the location of TR Woods Memorial Park in a larger map.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and is still hoping the pirate ship can be worked in. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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