park plan

This image, provided by consultants Zehren and Associates Inc., depicts the areas of consideration for work on updating the Town Park master plan; an ongoing process that officials hope will be completed by fall. (Courtesy image)

A master plan, by definition, is “a comprehensive or far-reaching plan of action.” Created to last for years, master plans give government officials a map to guide them as they make decisions pertinent to certain areas. But they do need refreshing, as times, demographics and functionality inevitably change.

And so, Telluride’s Parks and Recreation Commission, along with town staff and a consultant team, is forging ahead with another round of discussions concerning a new Town Park master plan that will, when approved in the fall, provide the template for how the park, the river corridor and town’s pocket parks will be used for the next decade or so. On Wednesday, the commission, town staff and the public considered some conceptual designs and ideas put together by consultants Pedro Campos and Tim Halbakken of Zehren and Associates Inc. The initial concepts discussed had incorporated input gathered earlier this year from stakeholders and user groups through public open houses, meetings with user groups such as festivals and a survey. Meeting attendees touched on ideas for the pocket parks, river corridor and an area of the park that has been dubbed “sport central.”

Despite state shelter-at-home public health orders, Campos said the master plan revision project is on schedule.

“Obviously, Covid has upended our lives, but we’ve kept working on this,” he said. “We’re right on track.”

The first area the commission and staff reviewed and commented on was the River Park Corridor Enhancement Plan, which, according to the Zehren and Associates memo, is general by design.

“The level of detail of conceptual plans prepared is purposefully general and coarse,” the memo reads. “The work has been prepared utilizing a combination of best available aerial mapping, site photographs during different seasons, and operational events and maintenance maps and diagrams.”

That piece of the conceptual work entails town-owned land along the San Miguel River and some of the suggestions compiled by the consultants included improved access for river recreation based on public input. The memo noted that further studies during high flow times of the year would be needed to assess riparian vegetation, safety and other factors. Improvements could include benches and tables, trash and recycling bins, and signage promoting safety, access and regulations, among other pieces of information.

Commission member Jesse Pekkala suggested that improved access could be placed near the Virginia Placer pocket of residences.

“Maybe we could make it a little more accessible and user friendly in that area,” he said. “It’s a vibrant community.”

Town parks and recreation director Stephanie Jaquet wasn’t sure the area was town-owned.

“Let’s make sure it’s our property,” she said, before looking into the suggestion further.

A suggestion to install exercise equipment along the river corridor was discussed, but scuttled after there was no strong support for pursuing the idea.

“I like keeping the river trail as natural as possible,” said commission member Teddy Errico.

Next up for preliminary review were the pocket parks, which dot Colorado Avenue and have varying levels of usage. Noting that existing usage could preclude some of the consultant team’s suggested improvements, Campos said that Oak Street Park, for instance could feature stone beam seating, a shade sail, a recessed area for vending carts and bike racks, and trash and recycling receptacles.

Elks Park, in nearly every season is well-used by not just the general public, but by festivals that use the space for programming outside of traditional, indoor venues. On the list of suggested improvements, relocating the boulders and historic plaques could be a way of improving access, Campos   said. Other ideas for Elks Park included extending the terraced seating, a new entry plaza off Colorado Avenue, adding stone pavers and moveable furniture to the southwest corner of the park, and removal of some trees in the northwest corner.

“I like those boulders, and I like what they say,” said commission chair Michael Ward.

Brandt Garber, who served on the original design team for Elks Park, gave some historical perspective to the boulders, calling them a “cheap way” at the time, to create separation from Colorado Avenue, and to “look rustic and naturalistic.”

The commission supported Keeping Elks Park grassy, rather that creating a zeriscape design, as the public indicated a preference for grass. Several commission members praised town staff for keeping the parks in attractive, useable condition.

Noting that pocket parks were a “hot topic,” Jaquet encouraged the commission to think as long-term as possible.

The Spruce Street parks on both the north and south side of Colorado Avenue could see the most dramatic upgrades, depending on final determinations following additional public, staff and commission input. Some suggestions included permanent vending areas, a play area, additional seating, and accent planting and tree preservation to screen each park from the alleys behind them. Creating a “unifying element” between the two parks was also suggested.

What Zehren and Associates have referred to the area of the park that includes the pool, Town Park Pavilion, volleyball courts, softball fields and grandstand area as “sport central,” and apt moniker considering the year-round activity that occurs in those areas, depending on the season. Suggestions for that vibrant area of Town Park included a central plaza and picnic area, playground expansion and renovations, a new multi-use shelter and concessions, a cover for the tennis and pickleball courts, and lighting for the sports fields. Commission members expressed support for concession stands and talked in general terms about possible relocation of the volleyball courts and placement of the concession stand.

Jaquet praised Campos and Halbakken’s initial synthesis of the early rounds of Town Park master plan meetings and stakeholder and public input sessions.

“You guys did an amazing job summarizing everything,” she said.

At a special meeting Wednesday, the commission, staff and public will resume reviewing the suggested new uses and configurations of the balance of Town Park areas such as box offices, entries, warming hut, camping and other areas.

For more information and to view the first draft of the master plan process, visit telluride-co.gov.