A true sense of community: McKinley Park playground gets rebuilt with help from thousands

Volunteers young and old were having fun working hard in the spirit of giving back to McKinley Park at the community build of the playground. The youngest had played there when they were children and their elders remember the last community build 19 years ago.

The spirit of the community cannot be overstated. The community vowed to rebuild the playground and the community is doing it as we go to press.

From neighborhood lemonade stands to Sutter Health’s $50,000 donation and the countless fundraising events, the community build for the McKinley Playground is underway until Sunday 5 p.m., at which time a celebration will be had to thank all of the countless volunteers. A grand opening for the playground is set for June 27.

The East Sacramento Park, located at 601 Alhambra Blvd., was destroyed by an early morning fire on July 28, 2012. The fire took nearly two hours to fight. Firefighters battled flames nearly 60 feet high and a third of the playground, mostly, in the center, was destroyed.

Despite the heartache, the community came together, stayed together and grew to the thousands.

The build scene is now like an elaborate assembly line over at the playground– working westward from the east was the prep area, staging, prefab, construction and a place to eat at the far end.  The build crew has been working in three shifts, since Monday, June 3: 8 a.m. to noon, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Then there were those who had other skills besides building to donate their time with, including child care workers who watched the children of volunteers nearby; food service folks who donated and served food to the volunteers, artists who made elaborate animal sculptures. Some large companies like Intel had some of its staff volunteer four-hour shifts.

And not to mention before the community build even took place, a pre-build was underway since Mother’s Day, with Granite Construction, Teichart and Livingston who helped with concrete and rocks.

And then there’s the child care area, where volunteers there are trying to make it so much fun that the parents want to volunteer extra shifts with the build. They are going to have Python Ron visit, science lab experiments, a visit from Cinderella, Dinger on Saturday, Sparky, plants to garden donated from Talini’s Nursery, and even live performances by St. Francis grads. Acting on the green!

Some of the features that are going to make the new playground so much fun include a rock wall, the playhouse, trolley, steamboat, a big turtle to climb on, swings, an archway resembling the old Alhambra Theatre.  One of the big takeaways from community input in terms of design is that the new playground look like wood and be modern and accessible. A few of the downfalls with the old playground included poor visibility and frequent maintenance. The new playground should need less maintenance and have better visibility, officials have said.

“The minute the fire happened, we took a minute to grieve and move on and think about what to do,” said councilmember Steve Cohn, who was on the original build. He said they wanted to quickly form a committee.

His chief of staff Sue Brown took the helm and got the website up and soon after offers started coming in and a decision was needed to be made – to replace the entire thing with a community build or just rebuild the third of it that was damaged. Cohn said park staff said the playground would have needed to be rebuilt anyway or was it going to be the kind of playground you see all over – the kind build with metal and plastic. But the  consensus was that this is a very special playground. So kids helped in the design process and the committee took 9 out of 10of their recommendations.

Once the design and date was set, then the fundraising started, volunteers began helping out, and donations of equipment all started rolling in. “We wanted to get this done by summer,” Cohn said, which made the rebuild process just eight months, four months sooner than the suggestion from Play by Design’s that it take one year.

But in the end, everyone had the same goal to get the project done as quickly as possible. So volunteers and donors have been extremely flexible with their time and money to meet the committee’s needs schedule wise.

As of last week, organizers were still looking for volunteers to fill the evening shifts and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, they are looking for artists to do decorative scrollwork to accompany a playhouse.

With Sutter’s most recent donation, the City will build new bathrooms to go next to the playground. The bathrooms, which are near the basketball courts, will likely be turned into a storage area.

Over the last few weeks, the playground has seen a good amount of site work. To prepare for the community build, concrete was laid and for a few days sticks poked out of the ground.

So what now? Any donations that will be made at this point will be saved for maintenance of the playground. Until Sunday, people are still needed for evening shifts. Artists are welcome to help out with some of the mosaic work or design of the rubber footing, which will be laid after Sunday.

Visit www.cityofsacramento.org/rebuildmckinley/ or the Facebook page for more updates.

Monkey bar sponsors ($1,000-$4,999)
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, AT&T, Bell Marine, Bosley Electric, Brian T. Wheat, Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers, City of Sacramento Fire Department, Cory Hula, Correna Hula, Claire Hula, Day Wireless, Douglas P. Mitten, Downtown Ford, East Sacramento Improvement Association (ESIA), Eppie G. Johnson Family, Fahn Family (tire swing), Friends of Bertha Henschel, Friends of McKinley Library, Glenn Sorensen, Greg Geeting, Hyatt Regency Sacramento, IHOP, International Design and Technology, Lincoln Law School, Motion Textile, Inc., Residence Inn by Marriott, R. Michael Kirchner and Meghan Hayes, New Home Building Supply, SactoMoFo, Selland’s Market Café, Shine, Stanley Security, Supervisor Phil Serna, Ted Kappel, Uncle Vitos/Paesanos/Mangia, Volvo Rents, 36th Way Kids

Swing set sponsors (up to $999)
Aaron Meillich, Clark’s Corner, Golden Pacific Bank, Jamie Elverum, Joe and Marsha McCormick, Karolyn W. Simon, LarsenCazanis Public Affairs, Luther Family, Nestle Waters North America, Rebecca L. Sharad and David W. Pardee, Sacramento Women’s Action Network, Suzie Burger, Briggs Family, Clean Site Services; Connie, Sophie and Mack Emerson; Comstock Mortgage, Corey and Marguerite Brown and Family, COSTCO; David and Eva Nybo, Tony’s Fine Foods, Dean & Karen Wakefield, Deborah Gordon, East Sacramento Preservation, Inc., Eduardo E. Desmond, Firefighters Local 522, Francis Story, Mr. & Mrs. Fred Grosklos, Holloway Land Co., Jackie Miller, Jim and Joan Ferry, Jo Ann Pinotti, Jo Darlene Eaton, J Prassa Printers, JP Tindell, Judy Capaul, Koukla Kids, La Bombe Ice Cream Parlor, La Bou, Marjorie A. Trivedi, Maney-Hall Family, McDonald’s – 30th and K St., McKinley East Sacramento Neighborhood Association, Noah’s Bagels – 1901 J St., Nopalitos, One Speed, Opa Opa!, Pasty Shack, Rita Gibson Insurance & Investment Services, Inc., Sacramento Animal Hospital, Sacred Heart Parish School Student Council, Sanctuary Covenant Church, Shiren Miles, Sibyl N. McWalters, Speedpro Imaging, Starbucks – 65th St., Starbucks – 1901 J St., Swindel Family, Teresa Pearl Heath & Abe, Leilani and Jesse Potter, The Clubs of Shepard Garden and Arts Center, The Shack, Wells Fargo, Adrian and Inna Tysoe, Betsy Hitchcock & Gary Baldwin, Betty A. Harris, Bob and Jan Martinez, Brian Schmitt, Bruce Fairbanks, Buffalo Wild Wings, Burr’s Fountain, Café Bernardo, Carlos A. Urrutia, Carol Purin, Cherisse Knapp, Classique Catering, Connie J. Vinson, Denise Larscheid, Doughbots, Douglas Arnold, Dyan and Andy Carey, Ellison, Schneider & Harris, Elizabeth Campbell & Jeremy A. Lockwood, Event Architects, Faith United Methodist Church, Fedric M. Sauze, Gertrude L. Lowry, Girl Scouts of Central California, Grandma Vicki, Greg, Angie and Mina Sahnd, Harambee Porter, Ian Montgomery, J Dogs, Juan & Joelle Mendoza, Lea Washington, Lucca Ireland Porter, Mamma Susanna’s, Maria Kaufman, Mary Lacalle, Michael Hazlewood, Michelle Collins, Molly Wiese, Nancy & Ramesh Sawhney, Peet’s 36th & J, PEPSICO, Roxie Deli, Sacramento Bagel, Sacramento Police Officers Association, Sally M. McKeag, State Farm Insurance, SaveMart, Truman Burns, William Leddy, Radial Tire – West Sacramento, East Sacramento Soccer Club, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Sutterville Preschool, Talini’s Nursery, Goodwill Industries, Sacramento Zoo, Mad Science, Christopher’s Musical Marionettes

Brick by Brick sponsors

The Selland Family, Robert Lessler, Gina and David Crippen, Stephanie Bellotti, Boulevard Park Neighborhood Association, Julie and Todd Manley, Pollyanna LeVangie, Julieanne and Patrick Hinrichsen, Teresa Heath, Cindy McGirr, Katherine and Eli Groppo, Carole Purin, Linda Eldridge, Michael Griffith, Linda and Frank Parsons, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Bert & Vyola Rule, Sofi Meza, Elizabeth Fujii, Jane Howell, Kelli and Bruce Boehm, Kirsten and Matthew Okamoto, Kelly Ratliff, C.W. and L.R. Purcell, Kevin Smith, Jason Long, Caroline and Peter Detwiler, James Sherman, GSHCC Troop #4042, Stefanie and Michael Grinstead, Gregory White, Margo and Warren Fox, Janet and Kenny Pack, Barbour-Berson Family, Kate DiGrigorio, Jeanie Sayre, Beverly Sheehy, American Lutheran Church of the Cross, George Koufasimis, Mary Jane Coombs, Jennifer and Matthew Baldwin, Dana and Morgan Waters, David Wellner, Katherine G. Downey, Colleen and John Marsh, Elizabeth Campbell, Irma and Gary Balonek, Stuart Hill, Laura and Frank Brennan, Jan and Robert Martinez, Linda and William Mason, Nancy and Robert Graves, Betty and Jack Reuben, Matt Perry, Robert Kirchner, Michael Fahn, Karen Patterson, Kendal A. Chaney-Buttleman, Linda and Bil Sweeney, Acme Chiropractic, The West Family, Vicki Bermudez, Linda and Steven Gold, Aimee Moulin,  Erin Quinlan, Dr. Paul Phillips – East Sac Dental, Jolynn and Justin Mason, Jennifer and Brian Judy, Isabel and Alex Contreras, Patricia Dutra, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Jot and Kristen Condie, Kristin Daily, Michelle Collins, Gabriel Dutra, Heather Lopez, Richard Cable, G. Tyler Babcock, Geri O’Neil, Curt Grieve, Steve Swindel – Swindel Associates, Catherine Cerna, Robert Frickey, 20-30 Club, Michael O’Brien, Cecilia DeCuir, Sheila Wolfe, Girl Scout Troop #1684, Ruth Craft, Alex Garza, Tim Taylor, East Sac Self Storage, Alice Liu, Julie Bugatto, Stanley Cubanski and Sandra Shewry, Brad Harris, Gregory A. Lim, Hilary Creger, Christina Vaughan, La Bombe Ice Cream, Caro Marks, Kay Overman, Jan Gladfelter, Suzanne Milliesdottir, Pamel and Michael Burton, Jean and William Leland, Diane and Kenneth Wood, Victoria and Burt Presnell, Emilie and Jack Kashtan, Linda Johnston Panattoni Interiors, Carpenters Local Union 46, Michelle and Timothy Shestek, Mary Pauly, Lana Adlawan, Stefan Kreisl, Eileen Cubanski and David Gonzalves, Helen Hobart, Terry Luedtke, Kathryn O’Connell, Jeff Harris, Andre Catellier, John Home, Amy Gardner, Richard Ciraulo, Lela Bayley, Asha Jennings, Christina Wukmir, Sherry Wardzik, Dave Spradin, Ron Vrilakas, Fraternity Members of Alpha Phi Omega, Rita Gibson – Insurance & Investment Services, Inc., Sabitrea and Rafael Rodriguez, Barbara M. Andres and Cecil R. Taylor, Holly Aamir Deen, Harris and Mary Liu, Golden Arch Enterprises, Inc., Susan Matchell, Kelly and Maurice Herbelin-Farrar, Rachel K. Maney & Kristoffer M. Hall, Scott Smith, Carla and Steve Stuck, Laura Sperry, East Sacramento Preservation Task Force, Inc., Jeff Donlevy – Green I$ Good Recycling Industries, Catherine Travers and Steve Cohn, The Hastings Family, Bethany Stryker, Jennifer and Tom Aten, Lisa and Howard Schmidt, Maria Kaufman, The Diepenbrock Family, Kathy Lelevier, Cathy Taylor, Mary Margolis, Patty Wait, Dawn Waltz, Jennifer Shaw, Jorome Porter, Skye Foster, Ted Kappel, Mary Lee and Alan Moritz, Christina Vaughan, The Burton Family