$4.7 million Birch property project for Rifle includes pickleball, futsal courts, inclusive playground | PostIndependent.com

$4.7 million Birch property project for Rifle includes pickleball, futsal courts, inclusive playground

Land behind North Pastures neighborhood in Rifle which the city looks to use for a new playground.
Ray K. Erku/Citizen Telegram

Estimated costs to create a new playground and recreation area directly north of the Promontory and North Pasture neighborhoods are coming together at a cool $4.7 million, according to a principal landscape architect who’s working on the project.

On the radar for years now, the city has used multiple community outreach events and surveys to help assemble a master plan for what’s called the Birch Property Park. The massive space is north of 19th Street between Birch and Anvil View avenues in east Rifle.

Design Concepts PLA Shanen Weber told Rifle City Council on April 19 that the master plan is set to feature an inclusive playground, pickleball and futsal courts, a sledding hill and more. Weber said the sledding hill itself will be located on a raised berm on the north side of the property.

“The intent there is to have great views,” she said. Both the Roan Plateau and Grand Hogback are clearly visible from this area. “It’s great for stargazing in the evening.”

There is not another public park within good walking distance of these neighborhoods. Deerfield Park to the north is about two miles away, while Davidson Park — much smaller in scale — is about one mile to the south. Centennial Park is another big park in Rifle, but that’s also about 1.7 miles away from North Pasture, and pedestrians must cross a busy Railroad Avenue to get there.

This prompted the city to hire Design Concepts of Lafayette to develop a preliminary master plan, and compared to other parks, the design is vast. The three-phase construction plan includes:

First phase: About $1.9 million

  • Parking lot and parking lot lights 
  • Utilities in road
  • Playground
  • Plaza and shelters with lighting 
  • Port-a-lets and enclosure 
  • Irrigation pond improvements
  • Extension of Birch Avenue
  • Park entry feature

Second phase: $665,690

  • Multi-use fields
  • Pickleball courts
  • Pickleball plaza with shelter 
  • Perimeter trail and trail lighting 
  • Vegetative screening

Third phase: $668,194

  • Futsal Court
  • “Lookout” shelters and play equipment 
  • The “Summit”
  • Soft scape bike trails
  • Pollinator garden
  • Connection trails to Raynard Ditch Trail. 
  • Vegetative screening

The real question: Who’s paying for what? Rifle Parks and Recreation Director Austin Rickstrew said the city is currently vying for a $1 million Great Outdoors Colorado grant as well as two other grants to defray costs, which would likely increase if the project doesn’t break ground sooner than later.

“The costs will probably go up depending on when we get the grant,” he said.

The project would also prompt the city to extend Birch Avenue north to the entrance of a 36-stall parking lot. City documents state that pedestrian crosswalk and enhanced park entry with signage is “critical at this junction for safe access into the site.”

Last week’s city council meeting addressing this property was just a presentation, and no action has yet been taken.

“I’m in support of it,” Mayor Pro Tem Brian Condie said. “We’d love to do it all at once — I think it’d get better economies of scale.

“But let’s see what kind of grants we get.”

Post Independent Assistant Editor and lead western Garfield County reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at rerku@postindependent.com or 612-423-5273.


In addition to possible construction itself, the city is trying to come up with a suitable name for the Birch Property Park if the project goes accordingly. Here is a list of what the city has come up with so far:
• Birch Mesa
• Birch Overlook
• Birch Park
• Birch View Park
• Roan Plateau Overlook
• Roan Plateau Park
• Mountain View Park
• Grand View Park
• Sky Ridge Park
• Skyline Park
• Sunset Park

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