People's playground sparkles in Columbine Hills Park

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New facility a team effort between neighborhood, park district

By Vicky Gits

The new playground in Columbine Hills Park is more than a neighborhood amenity — it is truly a community project and a source of pride and accomplishment.

About 150 residents of all ages turned out at West Elmhurst Avenue and South Kendall Boulevard on July 14 for the community playground-raising, which lasted from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. A resident DJ provided the motivational sounds, and a local deli provided the lunch for free.

The treehouse fort complex was inspired by designs submitted to the Foothills Park and Recreation District by second- and third-graders at Columbine Hills Elementary. There are three climbing walls, a rope bridge, swings and four types of slides.

The money that was saved by volunteer labor allowed the park district to buy more play equipment, said Sean Kitners, a planner for the park district.

"The other benefit is it creates a sense of ownership and pride within their community. They call it their playground. If they see somebody treating it wrong, they are more likely to say something about it. It helps deter vandalism and builds up how the community works together," Kitners said.

Foothillls Park and Recreation District has been involving the community in hands-on park building for the last three years.

Other community-built parks include Dewey Haberman Memorial Park in Golden, Sixth Avenue Estates playground, Powderhorn Park, Wingate South Park, Jim Hoida Memorial Park, and Chief Colorow Park.

The $80,000 equipment cost for the Columbine Hills playground was funded by $15,000 from the Columbine Civic Association, Foothills Park and Rec, and a grant from Jeffco Open Space for overall park improvements.

In addition to the playground, the district installed new dugouts, new trail connections and a picnic pavilion in other parts of the community park.

Community members Pat and Ralph Miller were particularly supportive, Kitners said. Michaelle Otto and Leigh Reider organized the get-out-the-volunteers effort. Roberts Italian Deli catered the lunch for free. Modern Woodmen donated $1,000. Eagle Automotive Service sponsored the T-shirts. The playground equipment is from Made in the Schade of Evergreen.

Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.