Kenmore slide gets upgrade thanks to Keegan and crew

The giant hill slide at Kenmore Elementary has been synonymous with the school itself for generations.

The giant hill slide at Kenmore Elementary has been synonymous with the school itself for generations.

But the playground structure nearly met its end this year because of safety concerns.

Brendan Keegan wouldn’t let that happen. The Kenmore Elementary alumnus rounded up a crew to tackle the issue as part of his Eagle Scout project.

The Northshore School District’s risk-assessment team determined that the structure needed to be closer to the ground.

It stood four feet above the turf — taller than some of its users — while safety standards called for a maximum clearance of just 12 inches.

The school district was in no position to spend money on playground equipment, having reduced its budget by over $3 million for the upcoming school year.

So Keegan set to work saving the icon by raising the ground below it.

“It’s been there for a long time,” he said. “I heard rumors that the principal was going to leave if the slide left.”

To make the project happen, Keegan had to procure landscaping materials, obtain permits and enlist a crew of volunteers.

Around 30 people showed up to offer their services Aug. 16, when the work took place.

Landscape-supply companies and contractors donated thousands of dollars worth of resources, including backhoes, fill dirt, topsoil and sod.

Additional help came from the Northshore Fire Department, whose firefighters trained their hoses on the newly laid grass to spray it with water on the 90-degree workday.

All told, volunteers spent more than 300 combined hours on the project.

“I’d say the average person spent five or six hours on it,” Keegan said.

That doesn’t account for the team leaders, who put in around 50 hours apiece.

Kenmore Elementary PTA volunteers Gretchen Nixon and Stacey Denuski helped coordinate the projects as part of a larger effort to renovate the playground as a whole.

The pair heads a committee whose goal is to provide the school with new playground equipment, including an outdoor play structure, a teeter totter, a toss-up basketball hoop, spinning tea cups and a play web.

Each piece will be included in an auction later this year, allowing members of the community to purchase the items on behalf of Kenmore Elementary.

“This is the only playground within walking distance for a lot of our kids,” Denuski said. “We wanted to make it a safe and fun place for them.”

Another Eagle Scout candidate, who chose to withhold his name for this story, helped complete additional work at the playground this summer. He brought together a team to clean and paint several pieces of aging equipment — the monkey bars, as well as a boat locomotive engine made of metal tubing.

“Those were 50-year-old pieces of rusty equipment that he worked on,” Denuski said. “They just look amazing now.”

The Kenmore PTA also paid to moved storage containers out of the playground area this summer, making more field space available to the kids.

“Hopefully they’ll have a better area for playing ball during recess,” Denuski said.

Keegan’s crew used surplus sod to cover all bare spots left by the containers.

“I feel like I left my mark on Kenmore Elementary,” he said. “I’m glad I could help the community and give back to the school I went to 10 years ago.”