Dillon polls students for Town Park playground ideas | SummitDaily.com

Dillon polls students for Town Park playground ideas

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

Dillon is making progress on a conceptual plan for its Town Park, with a local architecture firm incorporating feedback from the town's citizens. Monday's parks and recreation meeting took a different perspective, with dozens of children helping pick the best playground equipment.

"When you put them in the drivers seat, they come up with really compelling ideas," said Jackie Miller, director of youth initiatives for Great Outdoors Colorado (GoCO). "They want to frequent and spend time in it because they were part of the inspiration for that design."

The town is moving full speed to rebuild the park, which hosts sports games, farmers markets and a variety of other activities. After Dillon received a $60,000 GoCO planning grant last year, the next phase will be to finish a final design by mid-June.

The three main goals of the redesign are to convert the park's baseball field into a multi-use field, create better paths and build two new playgrounds for preschool-age children and elementary students.

"The idea was to do something complementary with natural play, and traditional play," said Pedro Campos, principal and landscape architect with Zehren and Associates, Inc. "We'll find out the themes and ideas that are the most popular with kids in certain play equipment and incorporate it into the design."

Zehren and Associates helped create plans for Dillon's Marina Park, which was renovated last summer with the help of another GoCO grant. The design company is seeking another distinctive plan for the park at the heart of the town.

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Dillon preschoolers and Dillon Valley Elementary students will be able to choose three of their favorite design concepts. The students were presented poster boards with several ideas, including rock-climbing walls, swinging nets, animal sculptures, building materials and more.

Playgrounds that include more natural materials, such as boulders and logs, are seen in more recent designs as communities seek to give kids an opportunity to experience the outdoors.

"There is growing interest in nature play areas as they provide really meaningful time for unstructured play for kids," Miller said. "Loose parts provide more opportunities for kids to be creative and use their imagination."

After the town tallies up the students' votes, Dillon will gather more input through another public meeting in January. Once the final design is ready, the town may apply for another grant from GoCO for construction of the new park.

GoCO local government coordinator Madison Brannigan said the program has about $6 million to award every year, funded by Colorado lottery proceeds. Grants are selected by a group of GoCO staff members and recreation professionals who read every application, choosing thoroughly researched projects with substantial community input.

"The town should be very proud it's been awarded a grant from GoCO," Campos added.