Mayor David Landis cuts the ribbon to open Triangle Park Tot Lot. (KRBD photo by Leila Kheiry)

Children in Ketchikan’s Deermount neighborhood have a newly refurbished playground.

Kids who came to the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Triangle Park didn’t wait for the ribbon cutting.

They immediately started climbing on, swinging from, running around, and ducking through the new playground equipment, pretty much ignoring the big red ribbon hanging above the head of a large, fabricated humpback whale – the centerpiece of the refurbished park.

New play equipment has been installed at Triangle Park near the Totem Heritage Center. (KRBD photo by Leila Kheiry)

“OK, Let’s go ahead and get started,” said Borough Mayor David Landis, speaking through a bullhorn while standing on top of the whale’s head. “Thank you very much for coming to the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Triangle Tot Lot. Thank you especially to all the kids for coming.”

The kids continued playing while Landis gave a brief history of the park.

“This started in 1976, when a comprehensive plan was formed in the City of Ketchikan and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough,” he said.  

That plan called for “tot lots,” or playgrounds, to be established in various neighborhoods. Triangle Park was one of those tot lots built in the mid-70s.

But, Landis said, over time the equipment wore out and needed replacement.

“In 2013, some meetings were held with parents and kids to identify the features they wished to see in this playground,” he said. “I think that’s really important that the local residents were consulted and had input, and I think it really turned out well because of that.”

It took a while after that initial meeting to get the project done partly because some land-ownership issues had to be cleared up. Borough Manager Ruben Duran says the site encroached on some private property, and some neighboring private property encroached on borough land.

“There was a half a dozen – like five — overlapping lots here, including a roadway that had been abandoned,” he said.

Duran added that, even with the delays, the project came in under budget.

“The budget was $120,000,” he said. “It got brought in at $97,500. Really good. Most of the cost was the equipment — $85,000, including oversight because the company had to come and advise us. We put a lot of our own labor into this, and our own concrete, and really made this work.”

The kids, though, they don’t care about encroaching property lines or budgets. They just wanted to play, and were eager to get the ceremony out of the way.