The Lake County Middle School Playground project received another grant in October, bringing it one step closer to being able to start construction this summer. A generous $100,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation brings the total raised to over $258,000 in grants, cash matches, and in-kind donations.
“It’s amazing,” said Amber Magee, Director of the Lake County Recreation Department and co-chair of the Lake County Middle School Playground Steering Committee. “This project started with a group of parents coming together to talk about how we might make our playgrounds safer, healthier and more fun for students—and it has been so inspiring to watch it grow into such a successful capital campaign over the last year.”
The proposed new playground, designed by students and community members with the help of graduate students at CU Denver’s Colorado Center for Community Development (CCCD), will completely overhaul the existing playground.
The remodeled playground will have 13 main components: (1) a grassy meadow (with irrigation); (2) a play area with climbing and challenge structures (including an ADA swing, accessible by a concrete walkway); (3) a hard surface area with painted educational features and games (4) a 1/8-mile measured walking/jogging path designed to provide adults with exercise opportunities; and (5) an educational storm water basin, (6) a built-in slide; (7) a triangular native planting “quiet area;” (8) retaining structures for the hillside; (9) a walking path that winds up the hillside; (10) a platform for a future greenhouse; and (11) an outdoor classroom.
A final phase (which may be built at a later time) will extend the playground onto a forested bench and add (12) a challenge course and (13) teaching circle.
The playground has been designed for the 3rd-6th-grade population that will be at the Lake County Middle School starting in the fall of 2014. The playground will also be open to the public during non-school hours, providing all Leadville and Lake County citizens with a new recreational facility that is easily accessible by the Mineral Belt Trail.
The project is still $100,000 short of funds to reach its goal of building Phases I and II in the summer of 2014, but volunteer grantwriters have been working diligently to find and write numerous grants to help reach the goal.
While the Lake County Middle School Playground Steering Committee had originally hoped to be able to build in the summer of 2013, it soon became clear that fixing some of the drainage and erosion issues with the playground would cost more than the original $150,000 estimate. (In fact, the playground will cost at least $360,000, with a possible extension onto the forested bench estimated to cost another $100,000).
Upon the advice of contractors, the playground committee decided it would be more cost effective and efficient not to build the playground across several summers, but to raise the funds to try to build the majority of the playground in the summer of 2014.
“We are so very thankful to all the community and business individuals who have donated numerous amounts of money and time to help us start this project next summer,” said Melina Compean, one of the members of the Playground Steering Committee. “Please accept our gratitude! We thank you for believing that this is a valuable project for the kids of our community.”