Fruita eyes Civic Center Park improvements

Though the money for a full reconstruction project hasn’t been earmarked just yet, there are some big decisions coming up for the future of Fruita’s Civic Center Park.

City Parks and Recreation officials previewed for the first time last week some possible reconfigurations and improvements for the popular public space along Aspen Avenue between Elm and Peach streets, where festivals and concerts often draw residents to the easternmost anchor of the city’s downtown area.

While the plan to do something at the park — which hasn’t been improved since a veterans’ memorial was added about a decade ago — is in its infancy, it seems clear that the city is bent on at least starting a dialogue with residents and park users about how to make the space more appealing and functional.

A major part of any plan will change, or altogether move, the pavilion and stage area. The current pavilion, built around 1993 by college students to resemble the open mouth of a dinosaur, could find itself in a different corner of the park when a renovation rolls around.

“That stage, where it currently resides, might be perceived as a mental barrier for park users, connecting to downtown,” said Ture Nycum, Fruita director of parks and recreation. “It’s also a physical barrier. If there’s a concert going on, you have to walk around it.”

Nycum showed City Council members three conceptual plans for improving the park, each with big changes for the stage and pavilion.

The first concept moves the stage area to the east end of the park, with an open, concrete plaza area in the southwest corner where the pavilion currently stands.

A second concept moves the stage to the northwest corner of the park, with the same concrete plaza connecting the park with the downtown corridor to the west.

A third concept keeps the pavilion where it is, but makes it more of a two-way stage.

All the concepts provide a covered area and storage for the stage, new shelters and restroom facilities, and other improved features like playground areas and fountains that could draw visitors even when special events aren’t being held.

The amount of money currently set aside for improvements reflects the preliminary nature of the project. Just $50,000 from the 2013 budget is allocated for improvements, far from the amount it will cost to make significant changes.

But the possibility of phasing an improvement plan could work, officials said. Reallocating or reprioritizing funds from other sources is always an option, Nycum said.

For now, additional meetings with critical community groups will happen early next year. Once some basic concepts are decided, the city plans to hold a number of public meetings to gauge the public’s interest and get feedback about proposed plans.


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