‘A gateway’ to play: Details emerge as Silverthorne pushes forward with new town-owned park
A large chunk of land in northern Silverthorne once played a small part in one of the most popular Christmas movies of all time, but the tract is now being cast in a leading role.
A development agreement approved in June 2015 requires the developer of Summit Sky Ranch to deliver a park on the Maryland Creek Ranch property that, once complete, will be publicly owned and operated by the town.
“That is the spot where Chevy Chase drove off the road in ‘Christmas Vacation,’” recalled Councilman Bob Kieber, as more park details came to light Wednesday night while the developer sought preliminary site plan approval for the project off Highway 9, not too far south of Peak Materials.
As it’s been designed, Maryland Creek Park is envisioned as a gateway to the town, an anchor for the northern end of the community and an extension of Summit Sky Ranch, a plush housing development with 240 home sites on over 400 acres in the heart of the Blue River Valley on the Maryland Creek Ranch property.
Park designs grew out of a collaborative process involving the public, town staff and the Silverthorne Parks, Open Space and Trails Committee, more commonly known as SPORT.
Throughout the process, one word that kept coming back was “a gateway,” said Megan Testin, a senior associate with Norris Design, part of the development team. “We wanted (the park) to be a gateway for the town — something that would be a destination for people who live here and for visitors.”
Ultimately, they decided the new park should come with a good amount of open space, two multi-use turf fields, picnic areas, a kids playground, disc golf course and dog park, along with multi-use trails and other features.
The dog park ranked high on the list of elements people wanted to see at the new park, and they’ll be happy to know designs call for just under one acre with natural vegetation, watering and waste stations, benches, a picnic table, berm and internal fencing to keep the larger, smaller or older dogs separate.
“For me, this is really a dog park with some other stuff around it,” Councilman Derrick Fowler joked before admitting he’s been one of the strongest advocates for a dog park and hopes it will have some lighting for the short winter days.
Appropriate for beginners and casual players, the disc golf course is nine holes and occupies the northern edge of the park’s property line, incorporating much of the area’s existing vegetation and topography into the course.
The course runs approximately 3,000 linear feet, and each hole has been designed within Professional Disc Golf Association recommended parameters, according to the developers. During the winter, the disc golf baskets will be removed, as that area makes way for trail loops for hiking, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing.
Additionally, an open-air pavilion made mostly of heavy timber seeks to bring a “rustic feel” to the park, and the building will project south onto the large turf field, perfect for large gatherings and live performances.
Another structure, a gable-roof rest station, will house restrooms and a warming hut that’s to be open to the public year-round, as well as have outdoor drinking fountains and a covered picnic shelter. The north side of the rest station will face the smaller field with a solid wall for projecting outdoor movies.
This rest station also sits at the toe of a new sledding hill, which has been designed with slopes appropriate for all ages and room to land any run without crashing into something.
The park is surrounded by National Forest, and designers took advantage of that by tying the park into an extensive trail network of National Forest lands and the Eagles Nest Wilderness area. All said and done, it could be just under 3.5 miles from the new park to the Gore Trail.
For parking, the park would have a centrally located lot with 52 paved spaces while 40 unpaved parking spaces along the entrance road could handle overflow traffic. Also, some extra space near the entrance could allow the town to bolster parking, should the need arise sometime in the future.
The proposed kids play area has been designed for children ages 2-12 with a mix of traditional play equipment like swings, spinners, forts and a large sand box, along with more natural play elements, such as log walks and steppers, small climbing boulders and teepees.
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