Remaking a place to play
Across the street from the liquor store in Red Cliff stands a small playground once full of rough wooden equipment – and a million splinters.
The many dogs who reside in Red Cliff have made the playground home. For some, it’s more of a dog paradise than a safe harbor for kids.
But all of that is changing.
Volunteers and residents are starting to get their hands dirty.
“I live across the street from the playground and I have two small children who have never been able to play in it,” says Red Cliff resident Beth Reilly. “It’s never been safe or ready. And it’s never been safe and poop-free.”
Red Cliff isn’t re-doing a “puppy park,” adds Susie Davis, development director for the Youth Foundation.
The foundation has decided to help re-do the park because they know the kids in Red Cliff don’t have a playground.
“There were great visuals at the park, but it was pretty limited,” Davis says. “There’s fencing around the common area for dogs right now, but we prefer it to be for the kids. We’re not doing a puppy park.”
Tie a yellow ribbon
Remodeling the playground has been an ongoing project for some time, says Guy Patterson, Red Cliff’s town manager.
Yellow-taped ribbon is draped around the playground, easy for the resident dogs to meander through it, but Reilly says the town has made huge progress on the park.
There is a toddler park up the street from the playground that’s safe, Reilly says, but “it’s not poop-free.”
“The kids aren’t going to play (at the Red Cliff playground) until the caution tape comes off,” Reilly says. “But we’re excited about the playground; we’re filled with anticipation that it will be close to completion.”
Officials have made some attempts to ensure the playground was safe, but somehow the playground still didn’t meet code, says Davis.
People driving through the small town might now find large bags of playground surfacing material lined around the playground. That alone has made the progress of the park more sustainable, officials say.
Patterson, meanwhile, says he’s happy the Youth Foundation was able to “talk the talk and walk the walk.”
“We need to level it first,” Davis says. “I can’t wait until everyone shows up, and we actually get after it.”
“Getting their hands dirty’
The Youth Foundation jumped aboard the refurbishing of the playground after its success “getting their hands dirty” on other projects throughout
Eagle County. Two years ago, for example, the foundation helped clear a mile-and-a-half pathway behind Gypsum Elementary School.
“The path was done in a day,” Davis said. “We had senior citizens out there serving water. It was better than a retreat.”
Since then, the Youth Foundation has searched for more hands-on projects. The foundation looked at Dotsero Park, but it was privately owned, and Davis said it just wasn’t “right for their project.”
When the director of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, Beth Reilly – who just happens to live in Red Cliff, across the street from the playground – informed the Youth Foundation about the park, the foundation’s founders said it was perfect, Davis says.
“We resurrected the workday,” Davis says. “We made it the same day as a clean-up day.”
More than 30 people already are slated to volunteer their time during the volunteer work day, scheduled for July 11. The Youth Foundation asks that people bring work gloves, sunscreen, shovels and rakes for the day, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at about 6 p.m.
“We have a punch-list of to-dos,” Davis says.
A wooden jungle gym will get sanded and repainted, she says. The playground itself will be re-graded, weeded and seeded – “whatever they all decide to do with it.”
The playground has the equipment already, however, Davis says.
Grants to help
Three years ago, the Eagle County School District wrote a grant for recycled rubber materials to resurface playgrounds throughout the county. Davis says resurfacing a Red Cliff playground could cost as much as $6,000.
Patterson says Red Cliff received a grant to buy recycled rubber composite materials for 75 percent of the regular purchase price. The Youth Foundation, meanwhile, wrote a check on the spot for $550, half of the remaining balance, to the Red Cliff Town Council, which paid for the rest.
“People love to come in and get $1,100,” Davis says. “We pitched in $550, and let’s get a move on this thing.”
Volunteer work day
Help Red Cliff refurbish the Red Cliff playground July 11 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Bring your strength, your sweat and your talents – as well as work gloves, sunscreen, shovels and rakes. For more information, call the Red Cliff Town Administration Office at 827-5303.
Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.