John Hay Elementary students are looking forward to having a new playground soon — but first it needs to be installed.

A new play structure and plants are going in during a volunteer work party on Saturday, Nov. 3, with plans to have that section of the schoolyard open by Dec. 1.

The playground project was spearheaded by John Hay Partners — a combination of the PTA, administrative site council and nonprofit John Hay Foundation — and is being partly funded by $40,675 in donations during a spring fundraiser last year.

Commemorative, personalized pavers were sold and laid out for a permanent path to the playground. Project manager Laura Malkasian Huggins said 109 pavers were sold at $250 each.

“We have a lot of blanks that can be engraved in the future. We also got money for six benches and some boulders and some logs,” Huggins said. “The pavers are already in, so on Nov. 3 it’s the play structure.”

Volunteers are still needed to help put in the play structure and plantings for the playground. The play structure installation will be done in two shifts; one is from 7:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 3, and the other is 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Volunteers can sign up here.

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods has also supported the project with three grants. One was received two years ago that funded community outreach and the hiring of an architect to develop a project master plan, Huggins said. Then there was another grant that funded the cost of construction documents and permits. Huggins said DON awarded the John Hay Elementary School Foundation $100,000 in June for a portion of the costs of the play structure and two artificial turf mounds.

“Those are formed, and we’re just waiting for the turf to go over them,” Huggins said.

The playground project was slated for completion over the summer, but permits were delayed due to a backlog of applications with the city, Huggins said, and the work crew was no longer available when the permits were finally issued.

“We had all our ducks in a row,” she said. “We were all ready to go on our end when the last day of school ended.”

There were other issues that impacted the project, including a construction workers strike in August, which meant the school couldn’t get the concrete and asphalt work completed until its resolution, Huggins said. A Canadian pipeline explosion in early October resulted in a natural gas shortage, so a contractor was also delayed because they couldn’t heat the asphalt, she said.

“I’d say, for the most part, the kids are doing well,” Huggins said, “but right now they’re pushed into a spot that is about a quarter of the size they’re used to.”

Regrading the playground was another focus of the project at John Hay Elementary, because the school lost half of its play area during rainy days.

“We had two or three giant lakes that would form, because we had some low points on the field,” Huggins said.

The playfield that is being replaced likely won’t reopen until the spring, or possibly next September, Huggins said, because the grass needs to mature.

“We’re going to wait until the spring to see what the grass looks like on the real grass playing field,” she said. “The rest of the playground will be available, hopefully by Dec. 1.”

Seattle Public Schools will conduct two inspections of the playground prior to its opening up to students, and the engineered wood fiber that will go under the play structure has to be blown in using a hose, Huggins said, because the truck can’t reach it due to the school’s configuration.

Learn more about the playground project here.