Thanks to grant, Dotsero neighborhood is getting a brand-new playground | VailDaily.com

Thanks to grant, Dotsero neighborhood is getting a brand-new playground

The forlorn playground area at the Dotsero Mobile home park doesn't exactly scream "play here!"

But that is about to change, compliments of an organization who's very name screams fun.

The Colorado Health Foundation and the national nonprofit KaBOOM! has awarded the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District a Build it with KaBOOM! playground grant that will be used to build a state-of-the-art playground at Dotsero this June.

KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit dedicated to giving all kids — especially those living in poverty — the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play. KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build or improve more than 17,000 play spaces, engaged more than 1.5 million volunteers and served over 9 million kids. The organization partnered with the town of Gypsum in 2016 to build the playground at the Spring Creek Village site on the east end of town.

But building the new play area is only one part of the KaBOOM! fun. Prior to build day, kids from the local community will come together to draw their dream playground during a special event planned Wednesday, May 2. Elements from their drawings will be incorporated into design options for the playground. The community will then choose the final design and then converge at the site for a one-day park build on Saturday, June 30.

Obvious need

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When WECMRD learned that the KaBOOM! organization was looking for a Colorado opportunity, Dotsero quickly emerged as the obvious local candidate.

Eagle County's Neighborhood Navigator project played a vital role advocating for the new park in Dotsero. Neighborhood Navigators are community leaders who identify local needs, connect people to resources and lead projects that create change.

"The Dotsero Neighborhood Navigator is proud to represent the residents of Dotsero Mobile Home Park in the KaBOOM! application process with the aim of benefiting children and families with a new place to share and enjoy together," said Melina Velsecia Monreal, Neighborhood Navigator Lead.

After interviewing Dotsero residents, the Neighborhood Navigator for the area reported there was an urgent need for a new playground at the Dotsero Mobile Home Park.

"The existing structures there were unsafe and unfit," said Scott Robinson, marketing director for WECMRD. "There was really no place for people in that community to go out and recreate."

Not only did the neighborhood lack public park or play space within walking distance, there also were no available funds to build one. That meant the nearest recreation facilities were in Gypsum, five miles to the east. For many residents, who rely on public transportation, that distance was a serious deterrent.

Robinson noted that during interviews with Dotsero residents, one woman reported she hadn't changed out of pajamas or ventured out of her home in two weeks because she had no car and there were no amenities or activities available in the neighborhood. That resonated with the group involved with the KaBOOM! application.

"The project partners believe that kids and families deserve a safe place to play and recreate ­— this park will award that opportunity," Robinson said. Along with a kid-friendly playground, the park will also include a fitness station circuit for adults to ensure kids and their caregivers can play together in one place.

"We are thrilled and thankful to KaBOOM! and the Colorado Health Foundation for awarding a grant to build a state-of-the-art playground for the Dotsero community. WECMRD is always striving to serve our entire community," said WECMRD Executive Director Janet Bartnick. "The addition of a playground in Dotsero is an amazing opportunity to better serve our district. This project is a true testament to the power of partnerships with Eagle County Public Health, Our Community Foundation and the Dotsero Mobile Home Park working together throughout the process."

"This playground is part of the Foundation's locally-focused work, that is designed to harness ideas that are generated at the local level and reflect the community's needs," said a statement from the Colorado Health Foundation. "Through this partnership, KaBOOM! and the foundation are creating an oasis where kids feel valued and loved, and where their potential is supported, nurtured and celebrated."