VAIL — In a town known for big projects, the smaller things are important, too. That’s why town of Vail officials are spending a lot of time on a plan to rebuild a neighborhood park in East Vail.
Booth Creek Park is the last of the town’s neighborhood parks to be upgraded in the past several years, and the facility is badly in need of work. But in a town where land is scarce for just about any project, there’s a balancing act at work for a site that’s a mere 3 acres, with another 3 for the stream tract that must be kept mostly in its natural state. That balance lies somewhere between adding amenities and leaving as much of the park as possible in a natural state. Add in the fact that the town’s neighborhood parks are where a lot of full-time residents spend much of their — and their kids’ — free time and officials are moving carefully.
On Tuesday, the Vail Town Council got its first look since spring at a plan for the park. That earlier version of the plan included upgrades to the grass, new playground equipment and, perhaps, a second bridge over Booth Creek so a new trail could be created. Those elements all remain, as does the idea for a pair of tennis courts, outdoor fitness equipment, restrooms and a picnic shelter.
THE PICKLEBALL PICKLE
The most controversial part of the early ideas for the park was a request by some residents to include pickleball, a game sort of based on tennis, but played with wooden paddles and plastic balls.
While the sport is becoming more popular, several neighbors at the time said they worried about noise from players and parking, since people from outside the neighborhood would come to play.
The pickleball problem was solved earlier this summer when the town and the Vail Recreation District agreed to put pickleball courts at Golden Peak. Those four courts are reportedly quite busy.
KEEPING IT NATURAL
Neighbors also lobbied town officials to keep the park in its natural state as much as possible, something the current plan reflects.
While looking forward to what is, in effect, a complete redo for the park, neighbors Tuesday urged the town to keep the park natural.
After looking at Oppenheimer’s list, neighbor Pam Stenmark said, “Let’s not overcrowd (the park) with too much stuff.”
Stenmark and some council members also said they didn’t think a second bridge is necessary. Those objections in part focused on the need to make the span nearly 70 feet long to accommodate the creek’s springtime flood stages.
But Rocky and Barbie Christopher said a second bridge would be a good addition to the area.
Some neighbors also wondered about the need for two tennis courts at the site, although Stenmark said the old courts were well-used when they were playable.
Overall, though, the slow approach seems to be paying off. Bill Suarez, a member of the Vail Recreation District board of directors and a veteran of the controversy at the Vail Golf Club, said he was pleased to see a cordial meeting between residents
Planning continues for the park site, but council member Ludwig Kurz said he hopes work can begin sooner than later.
“Overall I think it’s a good plan,” Kurz said. “When will this happen? Pretty soon, I hope.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com or @scottnmiller.