Grand Junction park project recognized

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel—Three-year-old Carson Hilgenfeld enjoys a fall day on a new playground at Lincoln Park, which was part of a park renovation project that was helped by a $250,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.

It’s no longer just Lincoln Park. Now, it’s the award-winning Lincoln Park.

The Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department is being given the 2013 Starburst Community Award by the Colorado Lottery for excellence in use of lottery dollars because of the work it’s done to the city park, which has seen a number of renovations in recent years.

The honor is primarily because of the project that created an arboretum, trails and universally accessible playground.

“We really took on Lincoln Park and recognized the fact that it needed some upkeep,” said Traci Wieland, recreation superintendent for the parks department. “With its age and with the love and usage that it receives by the community, it really necessitated us to do some basic amenity improvements.”

Starting with some funding from the Grand Junction City Council a few years ago, the department gathered as much community input as it could and started a series of projects to upgrade the park to be more user-friendly.

In time, however, the department discovered that it needed to do more, and applied for, and received, a $250,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.

With that money, it got rid of the road that bisected the park, put in new picnic tables and shelters, moved and upgraded the restrooms and created a playground that is accessible to everyone.

“We knew we needed another accessible playground where kids who had physical or mental challenges could come and play, that was obvious, but we didn’t know how impactful it was from a parent perspective,” Wieland said. “I got an email from a mom ... she’s a paraplegic and has two children under the age of four. She said, ‘It’s made such a difference in my life because I can come to the playground and play with my kids.’ That was a surprise for us, that we were able to have a connection with parents and not just kids.”

The arboretum was something other park officials have talked about for more than a decade, and the lottery funds allowed that to become reality, she said.

As a result, there are 69 different species of trees in the park, and visitors can learn about them while there through an audio tour by calling 255-8733 and walking through the park.

Though not part of the lottery project, the department also recently completed the new tennis courts there, adding smaller quick-start tennis for younger tennis players and pickle ball courts for older folks to the mix.

It removed the horseshoe pits, which are being moved to Canyon View Park, to make room for the new courts, and all of that allowed the department to add about 100 additional parking spaces, Wieland said.


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