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Bristol Bay Borough aims for a new playground in 2020

Courtesy of Shannon Harvilla

The borough received a $225,000 Rasmuson grant toward the playground. Now it is scrambling to collect matching donations from the community before the end of the year. 


Kids in the Bristol Bay Borough will soon a new place to play. The school district is aiming to build a new playground this spring, and it’s looking for the community to chip in. 

“You know, all told, our children don’t have very many safe, modern pieces of equipment to play on,” said Bill Hill, the Bristol Bay Borough School District Superintendent.

The playground project is part of the school renovation plan. The school district received a Rasmuson grant of $225,000 about a month ago to put towards the project, and it has moved quickly to rustle up matching funds from community members and local and regional businesses and organizations. Hill said they hope to receive a majority of donations for the project by end of the year, so that they can begin construction in the spring. Their goal is to $100 - $150,000.

“We’re within $85,000 of our goal at this point," he said, adding that all proceeds will go directly toward the new playground. 

Credit Courtesy of Shannon Harvilla

They have received $10,000 each from BBNC, Swalling General Contractors, and Alaska Marine Lines. Blue Fly and Bristol Bay Brailer have donnated $1,000 each.

Hill said the current playground is in desperate need of an update. Naknek weather is not kind to outdoor equipment, and he said a lot of it is outdated.

“We basically have very old equipment. I think some of the equipment was probably in place prior to my coming to high school here in 1984," he said. "In fact, I remember the teeter totters and the merry go round and the swings being in place, so some of the pieces have been here for many, many years. Decades.” 

Credit Courtesy of Bristol Bay Borough School District
The new playground will be part of phase II of the school renovation project.

The new playground will be accessible to kids with disabilities. Its features include swings, a jungle gym, and a slide, built on a solid, manmade foundation. Hill said it will be a place for people to come and spend time with family.

“It’s going to have some seating area, It’s going to be a place where people can come with their children and have a sit-down, and be nearby while their children play safely.”

If the district receives enough donations, they will begin construction in the spring, and the playground will be ready for school in the fall. 

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.