Alex Wenger, AICP helps bring pirate ship playground to life in Blaine, WA

The Blaine Marine Park Playground - a premier destination waterfront playground in Marine Park. Photo provided by Alex Wenger, AICP.

The Blaine Marine Park Playground - a premier destination waterfront playground in Marine Park. Photo provided by Alex Wenger, AICP.

Article republished courtesy of the Planning Association of Washington.

by Alex Wenger, AICP

Alex Wenger, AICP is the Acting Community Development Director for the City of Blaine, Washington. Having worked for the City of Blaine his entire career, Alex enjoys small town Americana and the many outdoor recreational opportunities that Blaine has to offer as a small maritime city with close proximity to Vancouver, British Columbia and Bellingham, Washington.

Sitting on the international border between British Columbia, Canada and the United States, Blaine has a rich history of being a fishing and logging border town with a population of over 5,000. The small town, settled in 1856, is also known as "The Gateway to the Pacific Northwest" and the "Peace Arch City," and is home to two main West Coast ports of entry between the United States and Canada.

Alex created a very unique plaque program that helped generate $87,000 in local fundraising for the Marine Park Playground. Donors are permanently recognized with an engraved bronze plaque in the shape of a sea creature mounted to the Pacific Northwest Sea Life Wall. Photo provided by Alex Wenger, AICP.

Alex created a very unique plaque program that helped generate $87,000 in local fundraising for the Marine Park Playground. Donors are permanently recognized with an engraved bronze plaque in the shape of a sea creature mounted to the Pacific Northwest Sea Life Wall. Photo provided by Alex Wenger, AICP.

Alex has always had a strong connection with the Salish Sea while growing up on San Juan Island and attending Western Washington University. As a Shoreline Administrator and Critical Areas Administrator for the City of Blaine, some of Alex’s favorite projects have been developing new public beaches and creating a new a nautical themed playground called The Marine Park Playground. This was a multiyear effort that included acquiring $200,000 in grant funds and coordinating volunteers and work parties to overcome funding shortfalls for the Marine Park Playground. Alex also created a sea life plaque donation program that helped generate $87,000 in local fundraising.

The freshly completed Marine Park Naturalization and Reconstruction project created a naturalized shoreline with improved habitat, beach nourishment and enhanced recreational opportunities. Photo provided by Alex Wenger, AICP.

The freshly completed Marine Park Naturalization and Reconstruction project created a naturalized shoreline with improved habitat, beach nourishment and enhanced recreational opportunities. Photo provided by Alex Wenger, AICP.

Designing, permitting and managing the construction of the Marine Park Naturalization and Reconstruction project was also a particularity fun city project for Alex, which included rebuilding and cleaning up over 400 feet of shoreline in Marine Park. A few years later, Alex oversaw and worked closely with property owners and the design team to reconstruct approximately 900 feet of shoreline on Semiahmoo Spit, a high energy shoreline with public access.

With over a decade of experience as a park planner for the City of Blaine, Alex has designed and built several neighborhood parks and recreational facilities. His latest project is to coordinate community outreach with the goal of relocating the city’s Skate Park to make way for downtown development of city-owned property in the Central Business District.

Alex Wenger, AICP talks at the grand opening of the Marine Park Playground. Standing on the Pirate Ship behind him, are from left to right: Ted Morris, Park District Executive Director; Dave Wilbrecht, City Manager (City of Blaine); Jeff Carrington, Park District Commissioner; and Harry Robinson, City of Blaine Mayor. Running in the corner is Alex’s daughter Claire.

Alex Wenger, AICP talks at the grand opening of the Marine Park Playground. Standing on the Pirate Ship behind him, are from left to right: Ted Morris, Park District Executive Director; Dave Wilbrecht, City Manager (City of Blaine); Jeff Carrington, Park District Commissioner; and Harry Robinson, City of Blaine Mayor. Running in the corner is Alex’s daughter Claire.

Happily married with three kids, Alex is energized when his family enjoys a new public place or his kids play on a new playground that he worked on as a planner. It was a special moment at the Marine Park Playground Grand Opening and Celebration when what seemed like the entire community of Blaine came out to christen the new 65-foot pirate ship playground, which was modeled after the tall ship Lady Washington and includes a 30-foot lighthouse play structure in the image of Blaine’s historic lighthouse.

Alex recently obtained his Washington Boater Education Card and purchased a small powerboat to explore the nearby marine waters and closest island, which included a family camping trip on Sucia Island, a highlight of this last summer.

Alex has been the president of the Planning Association of Washington (PAW) for four years and while his term is coming to an end beginning in January, he has thoroughly enjoyed the experience and says the networking and new connections have been invaluable. Being part of an organization that is focused on bringing people together to talk about planning issues has proven to be a lot of fun, and to experience the robust statewide support for PAW has been very gratifying. Alex is thankful for all the friends he has made through the PAW and looks forward to seeing what the next round of PAW leadership is able to accomplish!


Marine Park Playground

Photos provided by Alex Wenger, AICP.


Alex Wenger, AICP is the Acting Community Development Director for the City of Blaine, Washington. With over a decade of experience as a park planner for the City of Blaine, Alex has designed and built several neighborhood parks and recreational facilities. He has been the president of the Planning Association of Washington (PAW) for four years and his term is coming to an end beginning in January 2019.


Published in December 2018. Article republished courtesy of the Planning Association of Washington.