Dream of park comes true in Rifle
May 10, 2017
In summer 2015, Rifle City Manager Matt Sturgeon received a phone call from a concerned resident. She wasn't calling to complain, but rather was interested in working with the city to put a playground in Centennial Park. Now two years later, her vision is realized, as Rifle is set to open a state-of-the-art playground that will serve kids for years to come at its central park.
"The city was so receptive," said Linda McCausland, an Aspen resident. "I said, 'I'll help with the money if you've got the land.'"
After her initial phone call, McCausland stayed in contact with the city. She and her husband donated $31,000 for the project.
"Can you imagine what this does for the kids in the area that no longer have to walk a mile for to go to a playground?" she asked.
In fact, Sturgeon said there are more than 1,200 children 14 and younger who live within a mile of the future playground.
While a playground for Centennial Park had been discussed as far back as 2007, the donation from McCausland and several grants helped to get the construction off the ground.
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"It's a happy thing for everyone: Kids get to use the playground a lot sooner and it will be great for residents in the area," said Tom Whitmore, director of the Rifle Parks and Recreation Department.
In total the project is budgeted for $375,000, two thirds of which was donated by third parties. The majority of the funding came from two grants: one with Colorado Health Foundation for $135,000, and the other with the Colorado Conservation Trust Fund for $121,568.
The city also received $15,000 from Rifle Rotary, $20,000 from Rifle Visitor Improvement Fund and $8,000 from another private donor.
All Around Recreation is under contract to procure and install the equipment, which is estimated to cost $330,568.
"Centennial Park has become a destination for families and the city," Sturgeon said. "Those that contributed hope and believe this will provide a safe opportunity for kids and families to spend quality time playing outdoors and socializing. It's a fun complement to an already-busy park."
The playground will include two separate play areas for different age groups, with a sidewalk bisecting the two. The south side of the playground will be designed for 2- to 5-year-olds, while the north side will be designed for 6- to 12-year-olds.
It is set to open in late May, with the date of completion scheduled for Memorial Day, before the school year's end.