Haller Park’s new playground to be dedicated Friday

ARLINGTON — Arlington’s newest playground is set to be dedicated Friday at Haller Park, which is undergoing an extensive renovation that includes new restrooms and new security measures.

The Arlington Rotary Club donated the play equipment, purchased with funds raised during the 2013 Great Stilly Duck Dash. The event netted $116,000 last year.

David Pitts and Kaytlyn Millich spent a sunny Tuesday morning at the park, keeping tabs on two energetic boys, ages 4 and 5, who were enjoying the new playground for the first time.

“I have to say this is one of the nicest parks in Arlington,” Pitts said.

There’s enough play equipment to keep the boys busy, Millich said. Though the family lives right up the road from Haller Park, they used to drive to Marysville in order to find playgrounds with enough variety to keep the kids engaged.

While the couple agreed that the new playground is a welcome change, safety at the park still concerns them.

“The only thing I worry about is that there’s a high homeless population,” Millich said. “I want to come down here, but I don’t want to come down here alone.”

It’s a concern shared by the city. The playground, which opened June 7, is the first step in overhauling Haller Park.

For about three years, the city has been working to reclaim the 2.5-acre property from both floodwaters and drug users.

The park has been a staple in the community since it opened in the early 1960s. It is named after the Haller City settlement that was roped into Arlington more than a century ago.

Sections of the park, located on the banks of the Stillaguamish River, flood year after year. And with limited visibility from houses or businesses, the park attracts some people “who are up to no good,” said Paul Ellis, Arlington’s community and economic development director.

The city aims to move Haller Park’s restroom facility out of the river’s reach and increase park security using cameras.

In a pilot project, crews recently installed a security camera that streams live video of the park online to make community policing easier, Ellis said.

“We want to be very open and make sure the people who are not using the park appropriately know that everyone can watch them,” he said.

If the Haller Park cameras are successful, they could be used elsewhere in the city.

The next planned project at Haller Park is building new restrooms closer to the playground and uphill from the flood area. The restroom project, including surrounding sidewalks and lighting, is estimated to cost about $175,000, with $50,000 coming from the city and $50,000 from Snohomish County. Arlington officials are hoping for additional grant money to cover the $75,000 gap.

Also in the works are additional parking spaces and a remodeled boat launch.

The city plans to tear down a house on Cox Street near the park to construct a parking lot, according to Arlington’s June newsletter. The house is a currently unused part of the city property that houses its public works administration building, built in 2012.

Arlington also aims to redo the boat launch at Haller Park so it is safer and more accessible.

The project timelines are flexible, Ellis said. It all comes down to funding.

“We want to rework the rest of the park,” he said. “We’re taking it on as we can raise the money.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, kbray@heraldnet.com

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