Work begins on the demolition of Project Playground at Twin Lakes on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Work begins on the demolition of Project Playground at Twin Lakes on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Project Playground rebuild begins next week

Thirteen months after it burned to the ground, Project Playground will return.

Starting Tuesday, Carver Construction will begin work to rebuild the popular Twin Lakes recreation area. Equipment will be staged in the area next week, and construction will take place throughout the summer, climaxing with a community building effort that starts Aug. 8.

Construction is expected to wrap up by Labor Day weekend.

“The first part of the build is a contractor build, and it’s all the superstructure, the big stuff,” said Mike Goldstein, chairman of the project’s community steering committee. “That’s starting now and is going to run through the end of July.”

Beginning June 4, the west end of the parking lot and the Twin Lakes shelter will be closed for the duration of the project. Day at the Lake/Family Fishing Day at Twin Lakes, held June 2, will not be affected.

The restrooms at Twin Lakes will remain open throughout the rebuild, as will the beach and swimming access. The Twin Lakes walking path will remain open for most of the project, though construction may require slight detours.

The plans for the new Project Playground call for extensive improvements beyond a simple rebuild of the beloved childrens’ complex, which was destroyed by arson. Designs include additional slides, two 30-foot ziplines, a small artificial turf field, and a poured-in-place play surface.

“We feel quite fortunate. We have a combination of insurance funds and privately raised donations to put not only the original footprint out there but a much improved play experience with better safety and accessibility,” Goldstein said.

The popular ice castle and fort structures will return, albeit a in slightly different form that improves safety, accessibility and sight lines for parents to watch their children as they play.

Much of the reconstruction is being funded with insurance, but additional money has poured in from donations, which are still being solicited. Donations of time and skills are also being sought for the community construction part of the project.

According to figures provided by deputy city manager Mila Cosgrove, the bid to rebuild the playground is $1.42 million, a figure that does not include demolition of the old playground or disposal fees. Those costs were not immediately available Thursday evening. So far, $1.34 million is available to the city from insurance, and another $225,000 has been contributed by the Juneau Community Foundation, which has served as a central clearinghouse for donations and fundraising.

Anyone interested in participating in the reconstruction can visit to sign up for the community build, buy a fence picket to help fund playground improvements or find more information about the project and the community steering committee. The group also has a Facebook page for updates on the effort.

Goldstein said the Project Playground group is searching for someone to serve as a “tool coordinator” to keep track of equipment that will be used during the community build. Anyone interested in volunteering for the job can contact the group through its website.

The original Project Playground was built in 2007 after years of effort and a collaborative building project by Juneau residents. One month shy of its 10-year anniversary, it burned to the ground after children played with fire in one of the park’s structures. Now, only the park’s original entryway remains. That entryway will be preserved as part of the new Project Playground.