KP Parks Foundation and GH Rotary Team up to Pay for Gateway Park Pavilion


Ted Olinger

Phase I of the Key Pen Parks master plan for the Gateway Park includes a playground, restrooms and a pavilion, seen here as a large shelter. Courtesy Key Pen Parks

The Key Peninsula Parks Foundation is raising money to pay for enhancements to one or more of the new structures planned for Gateway Park in Wauna. The Gig Harbor Rotary Club has committed $20,000 and volunteer labor for a planned picnic shelter, now referred to as a pavilion.

“This park should be and will be the signature facility for the Key Peninsula, as a true gateway between the Key Peninsula and the Gig Harbor peninsula,” said Rotarian and longtime KP community volunteer Jeff Harris. “As such, I and others think the pavilion can serve as something of a symbol for the Key Peninsula to represent us and to tell our story.”

KP Parks Foundation and GH Rotary Team up to Pay for Gateway Park Pavilion

Key Pen Parks Board President Ed Robison, P.E., designed the 30-by-60 foot wood beam pavilion. “I designed it to be simple to assemble on purpose,” he said, to allow for as much prefabrication off-site as possible and ease of assembly by volunteers under professional supervision.

Because of the straightforward construction, Harris said additional artistic enhancements could be easily added. But that will require additional funds.

Harris is working with the KP Parks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created five years ago to help fund KP Park projects with tax-deductible donations, to raise money to add features to the pavilion. “Many envision a facility that represents and celebrates the history and character of the Key Peninsula,” he said.

Tim Keolker, a local contractor who has lived on the KP for 30 years, will oversee prefabrication and assembly. “A building has its own feeling and should evoke that feeling when you walk into it,” he said.

“You can actually tell a story with a structure,” Keolker said, using customized support brackets cast in the shape of salmon, eelgrass or crabs, for example, to tie into other possible visual elements not included in the original budget for the building. “We’ve got trees, eagles, sea life, logging, farming, Native Americans, homesteaders in our story,” he said. “We just have to figure out the story to tell.”

Shaping large, square timbers into curved corbels, braces and end caps would also create a traditional look, Keolker said. “But we need local artists to contribute designs to figure out those ideas and what goes in there to tell the story. It might unite a lot of people out here because a lot of people drive by there twice a day at least,” he said.

Susan Quigley, president of the KP Parks Foundation, said, “We’ve talked to Two Waters Arts Alliance and we’re looking for other artists too. We’re thinking about things that can be done to the pavilion as it’s built” and other enhancements, such as carving or painting that might be done afterward, depending on funding.

“This could be a building that will not just be on the KP but also represent the KP,” she said.

Key Pen Parks received multiple grants and other funding to purchase the parkland and finance the five-phase Gateway Park construction, according to KP Parks Executive Director Scott Gallacher.

Phase 1 construction of Gateway began in March with filling and grading the large tract along State Route 302 to provide drainage and prepare for construction of a multiuse field, parking lot, playground, restrooms and the pavilion. The total cost of the project is $7.5 million.

“The contractor is working on putting the parking lot in right now, so they can access the site,” Gallacher said. “They have to have it done by Sept. 30, but it could be sooner, depending on weather.”

Key Pen Parks acquired the first 39 acres in 2012. It has since been able to purchase two more parcels of land, totaling 72 acres.

For more information on the foundation and its fundraising efforts, go to

For more information on Gateway Park, go to