$500K facelift for beloved Redstone Park gets support from Pitkin County

‘It’s the most used park in the county,’ according to a Pitkin County Open Space official

Redstone Park, on the banks of the Crystal River in the town of Redstone, is on tap to received more than $500,000 in improvments. Included will be re-setting the sinking marble tables in the foreground on concrete foundations. (Photo courtesy Pitkin County)

Plans for a more than $500,000 facelift to one of Redstone’s most beloved and most utilized community gathering spots got the support this week from Pitkin County officials.

Redstone Park — located on the banks of the Crystal River — is set for a refurbished riverside picnic area, a larger gazebo and a more cohesive design for the three parcels that make up the park area.

“It’s definitely the most-used park in the county,” Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Director Gary Tennenbaum told members of the Board of County Commissioners and the Open Space Board of Trustees during a joint meeting Tuesday. “Redstone loves it.”

Tuesday’s meeting was the culmination of a collaborative planning process with the Redstone community. That process began in the summer of 2020, moved through a draft plan in February and public comment in March, and now is ready to be sent out for construction bids.

“It’s been part of a community collaboration,” Tennenbaum said. “They have helped steer it.”

Redstone Park and Elk Park — located on the other side of the Crystal River and attached by pedestrian bridge — were bought by Pitkin County in the 1970s “to prevent impending development,” according to a memo to commissioners and trustees from Jesse Young and Carly Klein, senior planners with the Open Space Program. The Open Space Program took over management of the park in 1999 and currently pays for upkeep of the restrooms and park maintenance.

A chunk of land immediately to the north of the original Redstone Park where the ice rink is located — known as the Meredith parcel — was purchased in 2009 with money from OST and Great Outdoors Colorado, a statewide fund that distributes lottery proceeds to enhance public lands.

Redstone Park as it is now, includes the original southern parcel on the left and the northern parcel, purchased in 2009, on the right. (Courtesy Pitkin County)

A renovation of Elk Park has been completed per a plan endorsed by the Redstone community, Young said. Now plans for Redstone Park on the Redstone side of the river along Redstone Boulevard can move forward.

The project — estimated to cost a little more than $536,000 — will better connect the three parcels that make up the park area, provide improved and safer river access points, refurbish areas that need maintenance and generally make the park more user-friendly. The overall governing philosophy toward the park improvements has been “less is more,” Young said.

“Maintaining the rural character is very important,” she said.

The plan envisions better integration of the path from Elk Park into Redstone Park, while making sure the path meets standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also on tap is a riverside picnic area, re-setting the sinking marble tables on concrete foundations, moving the playground equipment to a different location, creating an formal entrance leading to a larger gazebo, resurfacing of the sidewalk and the parking area and general grass and turf restoration.

Replacement of the aging gazebo caused particular consternation among locals involved in the planning process, Young said. They wanted it to support small-scale community events and the annual summer concert series, while also providing a sheltered spot for picnics when events occur, she said.

A construction drawing showing the proposed improvements to the southern parcel of Redstone Park, which will see most of the construction activity. (Courtesy Pitkin County)

The Meredith parcel also will receive a bit of TLC. The area is used mainly in the winter because of the ice rink, and feels a bit tacked-on to the main park site and “doesn’t feel a lot of love,” Young said.

“It’s never really been planned or incorporated into the park,” she said. “A lot of the focus (of the project) is to integrate that and make it more of a focus of the park.”

On that side of that park, the storage shed where ice skates can be rented in winter is in a depression that leads to flooding in the winter and needs to be moved slightly. The building will be lifted and placed back on a concrete foundation. In addition, stone seats will be built on the river side of the rink.

Finally, the plan calls for the removal of some trees — deemed less than healthy by arborists — which are slated to be replaced on site in better locations. Open Space Trustee Michael Kinsley didn’t like the sound of that, saying he was “particularly shy of county chainsaws at this point” and that he was “hoping for tree-specific judicious judgment.”

Klein warned that large, heavy equipment will need to be brought in for the construction, which will lead to disruptions.

The plans “quite shockingly received unanimous support” from all 18 people who attended a recent Crystal River Caucus meeting where the plans were discussed, Young said. Open Space Trustee Wayne Ives, who represents the district that includes Redstone, said he was all for the park improvements.

“I support the project completely,” Ives said. “It really is well-supported by the community.”

The annual summer concert series at Redstone Park always draws a crowd. (Photo courtesy Pitkin County)

Money to pay for the project is coming from Open Space and Trails funds — supported by a local property tax — though Tennenbaum asked Pitkin County commissioners to contribute $250,000 from a different county source. That money, which was approved by commissioners Tuesday, will come from a parks fund with $620,000 in it that subdivision developers previously had to contribute to as part of a prior incarnation of the land-use code, he said.

Board Chairwoman Kelly McNicholas Kury said she appreciated the community consensus that was achieved with the project and happily supported it.

“My daughter had her first scoop of ice cream sitting on a bench there,” she said. “I adore Redstone.”

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