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City, volunteers look to repair Imagination Station


Troutdale has scheduled a Sept. 15 volunteer day

by: FILE PHOTO - The city of Troutdale and volunteers are planning to do repairs and maintenance work at Imagination Station and Columbia Park in September.In August 1994, thousands of volunteers came together at Troutdale’s Columbia Park to build Imagination Station, an expansive wooden play structure with walkways, slides, mock forts and places to hide.

But after 18 years of providing a place for countless children to let their imaginations run wild, Imagination Station has obvious signs of wear and tear.

The city of Troutdale hopes another effort between staff and volunteers will fix up the structure and make it better for children and for their parents and guardians.

Troutdale Public Works Director Charlie Warren said he is organizing a volunteer day, scheduled for Sept. 15, in which city staff and the community can take on the necessary repair work and maintenance at Imagination Station and in Columbia Park.

Metro Regional Government awarded the city a $100,000 grant for the project, Warren said, and members of a local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have signed on to help.

City staff and volunteers toured Imagination Station on Monday, July 30, to come up with their own ideas for what they could do to improve the structure and the park.

City staff admit there’s much work to be done.

The wood in many sections is worn, splintered and rough to the touch. Platforms are sinking into the ground, slides are dented and tires need to be replaced. One stairway has been closed for about two or three weeks.

Duane Korst of the Troutdale Parks Department said the city hears complaints of children getting splinters or tripping on uneven surfaces.

Imagination Station’s dedication sign, which provides a history of the project and highlights the volunteers, has been vandalized with graffiti and would need to be replaced as well.

Other suggestions on July 30 included putting a fence around the structure and replacing railroad ties, which are slippery when wet.

Gresham resident and parent Jen Stever suggested cutting back the vegetation over “the caves” — an area of dense bushes, low-hanging tree branches and undergrowth that lines the fence along the west side of the structure. Children sometimes go there to hide and play games.

Stever said her concern was raised after her daughters, ages 10 and 8, and three of their friends were kicked and punched by two older boys, who were about 12 and 15, while they were playing in the caves area in mid-July.

As her older daughter struggled to get away from one of the boys, she was kicked in her back and punched, according to the police report of the incident. The children managed to get away and tell the friends’ parents, who could not see that the children were being harassed and beaten up.

The two boys ran off, Stever said, and since then her daughters have been afraid they’ll meet the boys again.

On July 30, city staff and volunteers agreed with Stever’s idea to trim the caves area, making it easier for parents to see their children.

“I think it’s good. It shows they’re hearing what I’m saying, and I appreciate that,” Stever said. She said she plans to help out at the Sept. 15 volunteer day by bringing her friends, family and an ROTC group from Reynolds High School.

To help the city, representatives from Leathers & Associates — the New York-based playground company that provided the plans and assistance to build Imagination Station in 1994 — are flying out in mid-August to visit Imagination Station, Warren said.

Warren hopes the company will provide a list of necessary repairs for the structure and an estimate for how much they would cost. It also might suggest new additions such as a rock-climbing structure, he said.

“It’s going to be a much better, safer place to play,” Warren said. “This is our premier, prime playground for the city.”

Warren added the public is invited to get involved in the project.