by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
The park will have a dedication and celebration ceremony on Saturday, June 21st — the first day of summer — from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm with free food. The official announcement was made earlier today. The City is preparing to take down the fences blocking access to the new Ralston Central Park on Garrison Street by Tuesday of next week.
Here’s the link to the City’s announcement describing the dedication ceremony:
As some of the few people who hadn’t already snuck into the park after construction hours to see what was going on, neighborhood association president TO Owens and I asked for, and got, an invite to have a short tour of the park on Tuesday morning earlier in the week. Arvada city parks manager Mike Lee and ECI construction superintendent Ian Mestdagh walked us through the site. These are my notes of what we were told in response to the many questions we put to them, plus some other background information.
The City will run the park and take care of the grounds maintenance. The Apex Park and Recreation District (which is not a part of the City of Arvada) will operate and maintain the splash pads, the restrooms and the special state-of-the-art ultraviolet water purification system that feeds the splash pads.
There have been outbreaks of water borne disease with splash pads in other states in past years, and these new facilities will meet the latest standards for water purity set by the Colorado Department of Health.
Youngsters will be sharing the spray grounds with toddlers wearing diapers, but there is also an outside shower to let your kids rinse off before and after leaving the splash decks.
No lifeguard will be on duty to monitor of the use of the splash pads. The water quality systems are set up to be remotely monitored by telephone. If you see the splash pads not running, it doesn’t mean they are not working. Your kids can turn them on by hitting the buttons on the activation posts.
The restrooms will not be open year-round — only during the warmer months. The pick-up-stick iron bars on the restroom building are not structural and they are intended to rust away over time. The building does not have a graffiti-resistant coating on it.
Speaking of which, the play areas have already been tagged. If you had a child come home late Monday night with orange finger tips, perhaps you should have a talk with him.
What had been dubbed the bring-your-own-tarp pavilion now has a tarp roof. But it’s not working very well and doesn’t drain the water properly. Parks manager Mike Lee says a fix is still in the works. It will probably be redesigned to drain the way it should sometime next year. The pavilion has a high roof so the rain protection is not complete if the wind is blowing, but the adjacent areas look perfect for the types of activities we saw happening near the old pavilion — frisbee tossing, badminton, touch football, volleyball and the like — perfect for high school graduation parties and big family get togethers.
Do be careful with the newly sodded lawns next the pavilion and elsewhere in the park. They are being over-watered to help root the new grass. The site is also very flat with only a 1% grade to Ralston Creek. That leaves a sponge-like surface that pools water in places. While we were there, underdrains were being installed below ground to deal with the worst puddles.
There will be pedestrian access from the north side of Ralston Road to the east, but nothing yet for bicycles, and there are no immediate plans to reinstall the push-button pedestrian crossing at Field Street.
The part of the park in the [southwest] with the gardens was funded with a much-appreciated $250 thousand private donation from the Hernor family. They ran L&L Glass in Arvada for many years.
Apparently, there have been a number of design changes made to the project after the last concept plans were released to the public.
Some of those came when the lowest construction bid came in at about $400 thousand over the engineer’s estimate for the park. In a presentation to the Arvada City Council, the parks director, Gordon Reusink, had said that the design was afterward “value engineered” to bring down the total cost by about $700 thousand. Most of the changes were to reduce the number of brick pavers and to cut back the park’s lighting.
And, it might not matter considering how warm our winters have been getting, but I could not see any improvements to accommodate a sledding run from the Cattlemen’s Association down to the creek. This was a much-requested feature during public meetings.
Also changed were the wading pools in creek. They were eliminated on health concerns about high bacteria counts. The native grass areas near the creek are not supposed to mowed for the first five years, so we might start seeing some wildlife move back into the area.
Gone too is the hard-surface basketball court. It had been moved too close to a private residence and has since been eliminated entirely from the park.
It’s difficult to tell what the effects of the lighting cutback will be on people’s willingness to use the park after dark in the fall. During public meetings held before construction, residents frequently complained that the park was too dark at night and they didn’t feel safe being there. The old street lighting along Brooks Drive had drop lenses that illuminated the bike path that ran through the eastern (Hoskinson) part of the park. Those were replaced with white LED lights that don’t illuminate the trail next to the creek. However, there is a new eight-foot sidewalk adjacent to the south side of Brooks Drive that wasn’t there before.
This park was a long time in coming, and its construction took a year longer than was originally planned. People should be pretty happy to see it reopened after 26 months of being blocked off for construction.
The park’s function is more than just recreation. It was part of larger plan to eliminate much of the flood damage that the [adjacent] Alta Vista neighborhoods were almost certain to suffer in coming years. A hundred-year flood would still be devastating for this part of Arvada, but the risk to homes close to the creek is now much less. The risk to nearby businesses is also much lower. This is something that lifts all of the property values in the area.
The new park is also expected to be an attractant for new business and residential development in the shopping areas immediately to the west of the park — something that this aging neighborhood could sorely use. The flood-control work in the park is one of the things making that possible.
Overall, the City’s website says that over $16 million was spent on the Ralston Creek channel reconstruction and rebuilding the park from [below] the ground up. There is rumored to be a relatively small remaining budget to fix up the types of post-construction problems that always seem to go with projects of this scale.
Now is the time to tell the City parks people what you like about the new park and what you think is not quite working right. It’s also the time to thank your City Council members and City managers — both present and past — who spent years planning for and funding this effort.
So come to the Saturday afternoon opening. Say hello, and take a moment to thank them for their efforts and for leaving a much better neighborhood behind. They have done a lot to make central Arvada a better place to live.
The listed contact for park design issues is parks manager Mike Lee at 720-898-7390 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And lastly, if you see a party being held in the pavilion on early on Tuesday morning, don’t drop by. It’s being held as a private event for City employees to thank them for their participation. City offices will be opening a few hours late that day.
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
Friday, June 13, 2014