It’s official: Beloved park now Rocket Park
The sign has always read “Melrose Park,” but for the people who live near 26th Street and Orchard Avenue and have flocked to the little park for decades, that designation might as well have been written in a foreign language.
For them, their children and their grandchildren, this place has been, is and always will be Rocket Park.
How could it not be? Generations of children have crawled up, in, around and over the 30-foot-tall red, yellow and blue metal rocket which has been the main attraction of the 2.6-acre site since it was installed in the 1960s.
On Wednesday night, the Grand Junction City Council finally recognized what city residents and even city parks and recreation staff have for years. The board unanimously agreed to officially change the name from Melrose Park to Rocket Park, a nod to a neighborhood that hasn’t been shy about showing its strong emotional ties to the park.
Council members also agreed to spend more than $160,000 in new playground equipment which will retain a rocket theme.
“When we began talking about Melrose Park, I had to look it up to see where it was. It’s always been Rocket Park,” Councilwoman Linda Romer Todd said.
Parks and Recreation Director Rob Schoeber said many people’s eyes glazed over when city officials talked to them about improvements at the park.
“Then when we mentioned the rocket, they knew exactly what we were talking about,” he said. “Maybe it’s time we change this and make the name more recognizable.”
Parks and Recreation Advisory Board members researched the name change and said they couldn’t find any historical significance regarding the name Melrose.
A new park sign will reflect the name change but also keep the name Melrose. The new sign will cost about $2,500.
The name change is part of a roughly $300,000 makeover of the park which will include a new picnic shelter, restrooms, concrete paths and playground equipment and surfacing. The council agreed to a $163,000 contract with 4 Corners Park and Playground Inc. of Parker to install new equipment and surfacing, which will be accessible to people with disabilities.
Safety concerns prompted the city to decommission the rocket as a piece of playground equipment. It will remain at the park, however, and will be moved to the northeast corner. There, it will have a slight tilt, as if it’s in flight.