Council endorses Playground plans | AspenTimes.com

Council endorses Playground plans

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Plans for a custom-designed, one-of-a-kind playground next to Wagner Park won endorsement from the Aspen City Council last week.

The city has budgeted $125,000 to build the new play area next to the park restrooms, where some painted rocks dubbed the ?pet rock collection? are sitting amid wood chips in the interim.

A new playground with standard equipment would cost roughly $40,000, said Scott Chism, project manager with the city Parks Department. But the city is looking for something more.

The old, raised playground was dismantled, and the area was lowered to the level of the park as part of the replacement of the old restrooms this year. The new playground equipment should be in place by the time the Aspen Food and Wine Classic rolls around next June, according to Jeff Woods, parks director.

The council directed Woods and his staff to come up with something unique for the playground, and they apparently have, presenting plans for a giant, fabricated rock ? an ?interactive sculpture? ? that will be the centerpiece of the facility.

Monolithic Sculptures Inc. of Denver will design and build the rock, inspired by the Grottos on Independence Pass, according to company president Ty Foose. The rock will have a Styrofoam core molded over a steel frame and a shell of concrete that will capture the texture and color of the rounded boulders of the Grottos, which have been shaped by the flow of the Roaring Fork River.

Recommended Stories For You

The rock, pocked with handholds and footholds, will be perched so that kids can climb on its underside and up onto the top. The highest points of the rock will be 11 to 12 feet high, but the top surface kids would stand on will be 7 to 8 feet off the ground, Woods said.

A ground surface of wood fibers will provide a cushion in case of falls, but Woods suggested the council consider an air-sole surface beneath the wood, as well, if it can be accommodated within the budget.

Extending from the big rock will be two rope-style ?jungle bridges,? including one of about 18 feet that will stretch to a second rock form that will contain a small slide. A sand play area and several small ?sit and spins? are also planned. A 12-foot hammock will offer a swinging element.

The arch climber that currently remains in the playground will be removed; there won’t be room for it when the new equipment is in place, Woods said.

The city has conducted several community meetings in the course of designing the playground, but they were not all very well attended. A model of the proposal is on display in the Recreation Department at the Red Brick Arts and Recreation Center.

?Have you gotten any anti-Flintstones feedback?? asked Councilman Tim Semrau, acknowledging the flak the fake-rock restrooms at Maroon Lake have received.

One individual urged the city to make sure the playground doesn’t look like the restrooms, but the public has generally liked the model, Chism reported.

?In a lot of installations, most people don?t even know it?s a fake rock,? Foose said. The shape of the one planned for the playground, however, may tip people off to its manufacture, he said.

?I love it,? said Mayor Helen Klanderud.

?I think it?s great,? agreed Councilman Tony Hershey. ?I think we should proceed.?

The final contract for the project will come to the council for approval in December, Woods said.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]