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Avon aims to reenergize its park

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

Easier access to Nottingham Lake, top-notch playground envisioned

By Matt Terrell

mterrell@vaildaily.com



ART: MainStreet_Avon_Map.jpg in MONDAY PHOTOS

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Town Hall

There’s one more wild card in the park plan ” what to do with Town Hall if its relocated and the site is open for redevelopment. A few options on the table now include turning the area into a parking garage, an expanded park maintenance facility, staging area for large events or even a larger pavilion type area where you could have a farmer’s market.

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AVON, Colorado ” The Nottingham Park of the future could have more restrooms, a pavilion for performances, more fishing spots on the lake shore and a “destination playground.”

Avon is developing a new “master plan” for the park to see how it can improve, and decide how it will fit in with Avon’s soon-to-be redeveloped downtown.

Early drafts of the master plan presented to the town council this week show that the Nottingham Park of the future will look mostly as it does now, a traditional park with lots of green open space, trails and the lake. It’s a place to have a picnic, throw a Frisbee and go fishing.

Most Avonites say they don’t want the park the fundamentally change, according to a survey completed by hundreds of residents. They said the best things about the park were its peace, quiet, nice views, and that it was a good place to gather with your family.

It’s the small things that will be improved. Planners are envisioning more places to sit, more picnic areas, easier access to the lake’s shore, better landscaping, decorating the ugly fence along the south side of the lake and even building a new community pavilion or bandshell that could accommodate small performances.

Council members said the playground area should be a priority, and planners have in mind a “destination” playground,” a place kids will ask their parents to go to.

The proposed changes listed below haven’t been approved or finalized ” they just reflect the ideas the council and town planners are throwing around now.

Walk out the recreation center of the back side of the library, and you’ll see the big main lawn that is the busy heart of the park ” this is where you’ll find kids playing soccer or tents set up for festivals.

Planners don’t want to fiddle with this lawn area too much. Pedro Campos, a landscape architect with VAg, Inc., told the council this area was “sacred” to the town ” sort of like the town’s “big living room.”

This area though will be the closest to the redeveloped downtown, and will try to take advantage of that. The new Main Street will end right at the park’s edge, and Campos says a new pedestrian path will in essence continue Main Street through the park to the lake. At the lake’s shore here, you might find a shallow wading area for children and a small fountain.

Along the path, you’ll find more seating, more lighting to make the evening hours safer, and a “gateway” to the park, a visible entrance where the park meets Lake Street.

Most people who took Avon’s park survey agreed that the shores of Nottingham Lake aren’t really attractive and are difficult to reach. Many areas are overgrown and weedy, and there aren’t many comfortable places to sit. If people want to fish, or just sit right by the water, it’s difficult and not really pleasant to do, Campos said.

First order of business is improving the paths surrounding the lake. The fence that runs along the south side of the lake could have art added to it. Lighting and seating will be added to places all around the lake shore, and a new fishing pier could be added.

“We want to get people closer to the water,” Campo said.

On the northeast side of the park, you’ll find a playground and picnic area ” a very popular part of the park for families. Right now, the picnic area is undersized, and the restrooms are overused and get vandalized, Campo said.

Also, the area is characterized by a small wooded area and a water way running through, which is really popular with kids.

Rich Carroll, Tamra Nottingham Underwood and Dave Dantas each said that this playground and family area should be a priority. This will be a place families will want to go after spending time at the library, rec center or shopping or eating on Main Street.

Along with new picnic tables, restrooms and landscaping, having a new, an innovative playground could also become a big draw for the area ” it could become a “destination park,” like Ford Park in Vail and Freedom Park in Edwards, Underwood said.

On the west side of the lake, you’ll find another open lawn and picnic area. People who live in the neighborhood southwest of the park tend to use this area frequently.

Proposed improvements include a new play area for younger children, a picnic pavilion with restrooms and more landscaping to help seclude the area from the neighboring condos and the water treatment plant.

Also on this side of the park you’ll find the basketball courts and parking lot most people associate with Avon Elementary. This is actually part of Nottingham Park though. Not much would be added here ” more lights, some landscaping and some directional signs.

In the southeast corner of the park, you’ll find a collection of buildings ” the park maintenance building, the log house where skates and paddle boats are rented, a dock for the paddleboats and some shaded picnic areas by the water. Planners say it is likely that these areas will need to be expanded to support more people in the park.

This would be an area to put more concession areas, restrooms, and a community pavilion or bandshell, a place that could hold small concerts.

The large, grass strip of land on the north edge of the lake is home to some volleyball courts and some great views across the lake to the ski slopes of Beaver Creek. According to the community survey, it should remain that way.

Improvements could include realigning the asphalt recreation path, adding some lighting, giving the lake’s edge a more “natural” look and adding some monuments at the entry along West Beaver Creek Boulevard.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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