Volunteer corps converge at Gypsum to construct play area in a single day
GYPSUM — Despite chilly, rainy weather last Saturday, David Wolter was cheerfully laying and cutting sod as a corps of volunteers participated in a park-building event in Gypsum.
“I wanted to come out and do what I can,” said Wolter, a resident of one of the Habitat for Humanity homes located at Stratton Flats.
Approximately 150 volunteers turned out for the Kaboom playground build day on Saturday. While it would be a stretch to say many hands made light work, many hands did spread out the heavy labor and at day’s end, Gypsum had a new playground.
The park happened because of the Playful City USA organization, the Colorado Health Foundation and a number of local partners. As a Playful City, Gypsum was eligible for a Kaboom grant, an organization that brings playgrounds to under-served areas.
Krista DeHerrera, Gypsum’s special events coordinator, said the park location fits perfectly with the Kaboom mission because kids who live in the Stratton Flats and Habitat homes don’t have a nearby play area. She noted that as part of its development approval, Stratton Flats was required to build a playground when it reached the 100 homes threshold. What’s more, a tract of land in the neighborhood has already been designated for a playground. When the town learned about the grant dollars, it approached the Stratton Flats developers and proposed a deal — if they would dedicate the park land to the Stratton Flats Homeowners Association, the town would cut their park development requirement from $60,000 to $50,000. The dollars and the land donation are being applied to the Kaboom project and local kids got a bigger park on a expedited schedule.
After receiving word about the grant, the town and Kaboom turned to the play experts to design the park. The result is a custom playground that includes features Gypsum kids said they wanted.
Lucia Bryon and Katie Smith joined teammates from the Eagle Valley High School cross-country team to spend Saturday working at the site. They were assigned to build a bench and planter box in the area that divides the playground from a workout circuit for adults.
The girls were bundled up and mud-splattered but they were having a good time nonetheless.
“It was pretty chilly this morning,” admitted Bryon.
Gloria Chairez was also working in the bench area. “
My parents own a landscape company and my dad thought he would help out the community here,” she said.
In fact, her father, Pedro, was put in charge of the volunteers working that part of the project.
Sarah Branoff of Kaboom said she was impressed with the Gypsum volunteers, both those who were at work on Saturday and those who completed the pre-construction site work.
“The site did not look like this eight days ago,” she said. “ We can build a playground in a few hours, but there’s lot of work that goes on before that.”
DeHerrera was also at work Saturday, prepping ground for sod. She noted that the Bald Eagle Wrestling program was in charge of serving meals to the volunteers and even though they couldn’t work at the site, local kids were given an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to the playground they designed. In a special kids tent, local children hand-painted paver stones that will line the path to the park.
DeHerrera also credited the dozens of local businesses that contributed to the park project. “We probably have $15,000 worth of trees here that people donated along with shrubs and boulders,” she said.
After they participated in a special grand opening ceremony Saturday afternoon, local kids had to vacate the park for a couple of days so that cement anchors at the site could cure. But by later this week, the playground will be open and ready to welcome generations of Gypsum kids.
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Eagle County Schools has released a draft document detailing how the school district intends to return in-person and hybrid instruction starting Aug. 18.