Odd entrance to Lincoln Park part of changes to complex
The funky entrance to historic Lincoln Park at the corner of 12th Street and Gunnison Avenue is history.
“Funky is a good word for it,” said Rob Schoeber, the director of the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department.
This spring, what was once an entrance to the parking lot at the park in the center of Grand Junction that puts the word “multi” in multi-use, with not only green space but the Lincoln Park Golf Course, Clinton Smith Tennis Courts, Lincoln Park-Moyer Pool, Stocker Stadium and Suplizio Field, not to mention to Lincoln Park Barn, will be seeded, so there’s a continuous expanse of green space.
“In the public meetings, we heard, ‘I have my kids out there, and cars are zipping through,’ ” Schoeber said of that aspect of a $1.3 million facelift at the park, which is being done in three phases over a two-year period. “It dissects the park for no reason. We didn’t want people to park there, which they did anyway. It created more safety concerns for us than it brought value. The people said let’s use it for open space.”
A $250,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant is funding most of the current Phase 2 renovation, along with city funds in the annual budget, funding from the Parks Improvement Advisory Board and some local donations.
Taking out that entrance and redesigning the corner of 12th and Gunnison is one of the more noticeable changes in the park, but there are plenty.
To help the traffic flow into the park is a new right-hand turn lane at the entrance off 12th Street near the Lincoln Park Barn. That and the entrance off Gunnison by the golf course are now the only two ways in — and out — of Lincoln Park. Vehicles are still prohibited from turning left out of the exit at the barn. Those who want to head south out of the complex should exit onto Gunnison by the golf course and then turn left onto 12th.
This spring, Grand Valley Transit will fund a double-length bus pullout to the north of the 12th Street entrance, which will provide a bus stop at the park without the buses having to negotiate through the parking lot.
“They talked about doing that in May. Oooh, no. All of our blood pressure rose,” recreation superintendent Traci Wieland said, laughing.
When the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series dates were mentioned, calendars were adjusted, and the bus pullout will be completed well before JUCO.
The entrances are only a fraction of the changes at the park, though. New crosswalks across Gunnison will help funnel foot traffic safely in and out of the park, and another dedicated crosswalk will be constructed to get pedestrians safely across 12th Street near the sports complex.
A new playground is in the works, with a new adjacent restroom facility and shelter — no more having kids hustle to the restrooms behind the swimming pool when nature calls. Another shelter and restroom facility was completed this past summer between the tennis courts and golf course, and the old restrooms by the tennis courts were renovated.
“It makes so much more sense to have it by the playground,” Schoeber said. “We don’t want them walking back and forth all the time.”
The playground itself will be much more than slides and swings.
“It’s very different,” Wieland said. “There will be a separate tot lot for 2- to 5-year-olds, and the area will be bigger for the 5- to 12-year-olds. We’ve added some area to the south that will be boulders and logs and stumps, incorporating the whole park theme, climbing and jumping and all that fun stuff. It’s going to be pretty cool. It’s got a bit of a Lorax feel to it. It’s going to be fun.”
All of the playground area will be handicap-accessible, with wheelchair ramps and several ground-level features.
“There’s one really cool ... I call it a ‘contraption’ for lack of a better word,” Wieland said. “It’s like a ball with one area cut out so kids can get in, and it’s like a little swing. They designed it for kiddos with autism. Kiddos who have autism go to a playground, it’s just so overwhelming to them. This is a place they can get away, be a part of it but not be overloaded by it. That’ll be neat.”
The “Lorax” equipment was scheduled to arrive last week, a bit ahead of schedule, and Wieland said the equipment will be installed as schedules — and weather — permit. Until it’s warm enough to put down the permanent bedding for the playground, wood chips will cover the ground. The playground should be open by late January or early February.
Ditto for the look around the “loop” entrance by the barn, which right now is asphalt. When temperatures are warm enough, permanent curbs and gutters will be completed and the area will be landscaped. Before next football season, handrails and nonslip treads will be installed in the west stands of Stocker.
Walking trails winding from one end of the park to the other will take visitors on a tour of the 69 species of trees as part of the Lincoln Park Arboretum. Wooden posts will identify the tree, but you can pull out your cell phone, dial a number on the plaque, punch in the tree number and get a brief description and history of the tree. If you have a smart phone, you can use its QR barcode scanner to pull up a video.
“There’s 69 different species out there,” Schoeber said. “We filmed 69 different videos. All of us did them. We had City Council members, rec board members, identify each species, the size and characteristics. It’s fabulous.”
Phase 3 will include resurfacing the track at Stocker Stadium, and Schoeber said they’re trying to decide if they can install pole vault and steeplechase pits so the track can host college meets, including the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships.
The Clinton Smith Tennis Courts will get a facelift with four regulation courts, four “QuickStart” courts designed to teach the game to youngsters, and four pickleball courts.
The reconfiguration of the courts will free up space for approximately 80 additional parking spaces. The city will apply for a United States Tennis Association grant to help fund the tennis court renovations.
“Hopefully,” Schoeber said, “by this time next year almost everything will be complete.”