After a delayed take-off due to COVID-19, a space-themed renovation will soon arrive at a park in Kent town centre.
On June 7, Kent City Council unanimously approved a $1.62 million contract to renovate Kherson Park, 317 W. Gowe St., after Lakewood-based Green Tech Excavation submitted a the lowest bid among three companies.
“It will be a phenomenal project,” said Kent City Council Chairman Bill Boyce.
According to city documents, new children’s play features in the park will capture the imagination and historical ties to the city’s heritage in the aerospace industry. Upgrades will include a 40-foot backdrop for the Lunar Rover replica and a life-size astronaut replica; a video projection system; new lighting; and day use areas.
The first and only crewed surface transport system designed to operate on the Moon was designed, tested and built in 1969 by Boeing for NASA in Kent. Commonly referred to as the Lunar Rover or Moon Buggy, the four-wheeled vehicles were last used on the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions between 1971 and 1972. Three of the Kent-built Lunar Rovers remain on the Moon today and were designated as King County Historic Landmarks in 2019 and Washington State Historic Landmarks in 2020.
The park will include a lunar lander structure where kids can step inside and imagine they are piloting it. There will also be a mission control area where children can talk to each other, including those in the play structure.
“We expect to begin construction in early July and anticipate project completion in late fall 2022,” Terry Jungman, the city’s parks planning and development manager, said in a statement. E-mail.
The Kent Downtown Partnership is running a fundraising campaign to help pay for the renovation of the park. The group has set itself the goal of raising $1.2 million.
A city engineer estimated the cost at between $950,000 and $1.15 million, according to city documents.
Jungman told the board that several reasons contributed to the higher bids, including landscaping and building A-1s based on Snohomish at $1.81 million.
“We have our highest inflation in 31 years,” Jungman said. “The cost of materials is up 15% to 26%. Fuel costs are the highest ever.
Jungman said other factors included bids during a concrete workers’ strike, supply chain challenges due to COVID-19 and that the project is in an urban park with no parking for a contractor.
“Market conditions are really driving this one up,” Jungman said.
The offer includes $75,000 to help cover small changes to the project.
Despite the higher costs, Jungman told the council he was excited about the park’s renovation.
“It will be a place where kids learn about Kent’s history of aerospace innovation and can imagine themselves in these positions,” Jungman said.
In 2019, the board approved the expenditure of $123,615 for a company to build the Lunar Rover replica, although more than $85,000 of that sum was to be covered by private fundraising efforts.
This contract was with Issaquah-based Northwest Playground Equipment. The company is a local representative of Minnesota-based Cre8Play, a manufacturer of custom play parks and environments that specializes in innovative play element concepts. City Parks staff recommended that Cre8Play be the selected vendor to build the replica with the city to purchase it through Northwest Playground Equipment.
“This park will do great things for downtown,” said Councilor Zandria Michaud.