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Delay to August (maybe) for Community Center's replacement playground

       Once planned in June, a replacement playground at the Westside Community Center is now slated for the latter part of August.
       Jake Butterfield, who leads the playground inspection program for Colorado Springs Parks, told about 25 attendees at a July 12 public meeting that his schedule calls for Aug. 18 or 19, but he could make no promises.
      
Jake Butterfield of Colorado Springs Parks points to a concept drawing for the future Westside Community Center playground replacement during the meeting July 12 at the center. A color option is at the left. Standing at right is Jenny Churchich-Cook of Churchich Recreation, a recreational equipment manufacturer that contracts with the city.
Westside Pioneer photo
Such uncertainty was not welcome news for the center, which plans a community picnic Aug. 27. For reasons of fun as well as recent, localized history, the new playground was/is to be a prominent part of the event.
       Center staff member Aundrea Fuller pointed out this conflict to Butterfield, but he could only say, "I'm hoping, I'm pushing for August," while cautioning that problems could still arise, such as "rain, or a broken truck."
       City Parks removed the old Community Center playground in late April. A significant safety issue, according to Butterfield, was its pea gravel surface (not handicapped-accessible). Rust had also become a problem.
       On the whole, meeting attendees seemed more concerned about what the new playground will be like. Butterfield said it would be smaller than before - from 6,700 square feet down to 4,000 square feet, and for affordability the surface will need to be wood chips (which are handicapped-accessible).
       Butterfield asked people for feedback on color and equipment types, but much of the meeting response concerned an amenity he hadn't proposed: shade for parents to sit under while their children play. Butterfield said he would look into it, but pointed out that installing any kind of shade apparatus - such as tables with umbrellas - might mean having to reduce the amount of play equipment.
       According to Fuller, the previous playground had been created through a school/community fundraising effort in 1995 when the now-city-owned center property - bounded by 16th and 17th streets and Bijou Street and Platte Avenue - was still Buena Vista Elementary and owned by School District 11.
      
Many of the attendees (including some families with children) listen during the City Parks presentation July 12 on the Westside Community Center's playground replacement.
Westside Pioneer photo
The playground's removal came without advance notice, and Fuller has reported hearing from numerous people who'd been part of the fundraiser and were disappointed to find the equipment gone.
       The mid-'90s effort had even buried a time capsule - including mementoes from the school - under the playground. City Parks crews accidentally dug up the capsule during the removal. A feature of the Aug. 27 picnic will be displays of its contents, Fuller has said.
       Speaking to the June-to-August delay, Butterfield told the gathering he had been “hoping” for the earlier date, but people started calling with concerns. Asked by the Westside Pioneer if that meant he was blaming the delay on people calling, he said no, just that things in general had taken more time than expected.
       His presentation revealed that multiple steps are required in the replacement effort. These include hiring a contractor, finalizing designs, performing site modifications, holding a meeting (the one July 12), ordering materials, performing the install and then conducting “finish work.” In a previous contact with the Pioneer, Butterfield had not mentioned a public meeting, but at the meeting he said he had always intended to do so.
       A timetable displayed by Butterfield shows the finish work occurring in September.
       He was joined at the meeting by Jenny Churchich-Cook of Churchich Recreation, a recreational equipment manufacturer from Niwot that will be outfitting the center's playground, according to Butterfield.
       The Pioneer asked him if, because of the neighborhood interest in the project, he would consider expediting the installation. His response was that a high-interest scenario could actually work the other way, in that numerous suggestions would require extra time for staff to process and then to work out with the manufacturer.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 7/17/17; Community: Westside Community Center)

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