The design of the sports complex’s playgrounds receives feedback from the public
Planning for the Gig Harbor Sports Complex is underway and the city is beginning to give residents an idea of what the playground and other features might look like.
Staff provided an update on the project at a July 14 study session. The update included playground designs, renders for a performance scene, and blueprints for pickleball courts. The public weighed in on the various options at an open house on June 28.
The next open information day that the public can attend will take place end of September.
The sports complex is being built in phases on 30 acres along Harbor Hill Drive, north, south and southwest of the Tom Taylor Family YMCA.
The total cost of Phase 1B is estimated at $3.8 million. This part of the project includes restrooms, picnic shelters, pickleball courts, an event lawn and bocce courts, among others, according to the city’s website. Construction of Phase 1B is expected to begin in April 2023 and be complete by the end of this year, said Jeff Langhelm, the city’s director of public works.
Phase 1A includes the new sports fields and is part of the YMCA project. The association has a lease with the city for the land. Construction of this phase is expected to be completed by December 2024, according to the city’s website.
During the open day, the public was able to discover four models of playgrounds, each with a different theme.
The options were:
A forest game theme tied to the trees and native vegetation of Gig Harbor. This design would use natural materials such as wood and rope in play structures.
A historical/fishing art theme, related to the town’s fishing industry. This design would use nets, fish, boats and other maritime themes.
A historically-themed traditional game design that would reference the town’s maritime and fishing history, but use traditional metal and plastic game equipment.
A traditional nature-themed game design that would reference the natural environment of Gig Harbor, but use more traditional metal and plastic play equipment.
Attendees at the open house in June preferred the nature-themed playground. The artistic theme of the fish came right after.
Council member Mary Barber was concerned that the playground designs did not seem accessible to everyone.
“All of these will incorporate ADA into them. BCRAThe playground designer is looking at this closely to incorporate ADA access into every element of these playgrounds that we can,” City Engineer Aaron Hulst said during the study session.
BCRA is the Seattle consulting firm working with the city on this project.
Council member Robyn Denson liked the two top-voted options, but wondered if there could be more covered overhanging areas for children to play in inclement weather.
Langhelm said the site did not provide an indoor play structure, but the indoor performance stage was an option for children to play on.
Council member Le Rodenberg was concerned about the longevity of the materials for each option. Langhelm told him that the nature-themed playground would potentially have better longevity and less maintenance.
Council member Seth Storset preferred the artistic theme because he felt it gave the community a better chance of coming up with a creative moniker for the park.
“We wanted to create a theme that was recognizably Gig Harbor,” said Andrew Cirillo, associate engineer at BCRA architects.
Council member Barber said she was leaning towards the artistic theme for this reason.
Council member Roger Henderson reminded the council of the Native American history of the area. He asked if there was any thought given to this in the drawings.
“This park will be right across from Swiftwater Elementary School, which is named after the native people here. Is it possible to incorporate some of this theme into the design? asked Henderson.
Cirillo said, “I think it could fit well with some of the historical components of fishing and the Native American community in the art design.”
The Board instructed staff to continue the fish-themed art playground.
The audience also got to see four different designs for the performance stage.
The first option has a traditional aesthetic with a curved roof, tapered structure, and freestanding backdrop. He got the most votes at the open house.
“The freestanding wall provides a backdrop that can be used for functional flexibility to accommodate different types of performances or acoustic properties to project sound into the audience,” Cirillo said.
Council members gave feedback on the designs and offered an additional option.
“I would like option two with the back wall of the first option,” council member Storset said.
Second Option is a northwest aesthetic with a butterfly roof, blunt structure, and corner walls.
Council Member Henderson agreed and Langhelm noted Storset’s suggestion for future discussion.
Council Member Denson expressed weather concerns regarding option two.
“I would like to make sure the engineers take a look at that drainage that comes with option two with that v-shape. If you’re doing a play and there’s water coming up on the sides of you and splashing onto the stage, that could be a problem,” Denson said.
The board has asked staff to pursue an option that combines option one and two.
“A number of pickleball players showed up at the open house to provide valuable input,” Langhelm said during the study session.
“We learned that we needed to have some sort of system for people to line up to play the courts and then the seating options,” he said.
The public could see five different color combination options for the field.
“Of the pickleball players who showed up, they were very adamant about option B is the option they want with a very standardized color palette,” Langhelm said.
Option B is two shades of blue with a green border.
The board directed staff to pursue Option B.
More information about the project, including the presentation with all the designs, is available at cityofgigharbor.net.