The Telluride Parks & Recreation Commission unanimously approved the Town Park Core Area Improvements Schematic Design during its virtual meeting Wednesday. The improvements and changes outlined in the plan created by architecture firm Zehren and Associates is part of the Town Park Master Plan Update process and focuses on the southern area of the park, closest to the bridge entrance to and from the post office.
Led by Pedro Campos, the Zehren and Associates team outlined the plan’s most significant elements. For starters, the current warming hut would be demolished and replaced with a picnic area to improve the circulation in the area nearest the bra and bridge entryway. A larger warming hut that features a temporary youth space would be built further up next to the oval and basketball court on the same side as the current one.
Expansion of the oval green space includes creating a 150-foot-by-85-foot hard surface sport court that features two high school-sized basketball courts. During the winter, it’d be an ice rink. A complete redesign of the current skatepark could break ground and be completed within the year, as well as the festival vendors staging areas, town parks & recreation director Stephanie Jaquet explained.
“Things could change slightly as we dive into the details, but the schematic design would guide that process very closely,” she said in introducing the topic to the commission. “Just a reminder, design is the goal for this year, although the skatepark and the festival vendor staging areas may get constructed later this year. We do have some capital funds to implement construction, whereas the rest of the project, the oval and the warming hut would be in a future budget year, currently slated for 2022. That gets revisited every year by town council.”
There is currently $300,000 and $75,000 for design and construction of the skatepark and staging areas, respectively, in the 2021 town council budget. An additional $200,000 is earmarked this year for design and engineering of the additional core area improvements.
While there are several elements that make up the project, Campos explained the Zehren and Associates team focused on interconnecting them in one way or another.
“We’ve approached them holistically looking very closely at interrelationships between each of the facilities and how they can each support each other, synergies based on use, locations, the layout and shape each of the facilities. As importantly, how the four improvement areas relate to the entrance sequence into the park and some of the broader contextual relationships that I think were really important in the master plan. All of that is baked into that plan here,” he said.
The design also takes surrounding green spaces and wetlands into account.
Every commission member commended the schematic plan, although a majority of them agreed that the bra should be relocated in an effort to improve ease of access, especially during busier festival weekends, as well as keep events that make usage of the bra separate from other park visitors.
“I still think the bra should move to where the warming hut will be torn down,” commission member Teddy Errico said. “The fact that we’re still talking about festival egress going under that bra, I‘d like to move that bra to the northwest, where it opens up more to the new grass and slightly expanded grass on the schematic plan and better view corridors, and then it gives you more room and more space to create that main entryway, when that day comes, north of the areas that we’re talking about. … I think you’re going to need to maximize that space as much as possible.”
Town council liaison Adrienne Christy agreed in explaining she recently organized an event under the bra area.
“I don’t why I didn’t ever think of moving the bra, but one of my concerns was circulation moving through the bra,” she said. “As somebody who just had an event there, as people were coming to the park to play softball, they were riding their bikes through our event the whole time, which we know is part of the deal, but it was also a little disruptive for all parties. I think it would be great to reconsider the circulation there, not just for festivals, but in general.”
Commission members Jesse Pekkala, J.J. Ossola, Megan Honea and Jim Denny all agreed with relocating the bra.
“I’ve always thought if you moved the bra you are going to fix that circulation problem when you come into the park. I think it kind of puts it a little bit out of the way. I love everything else,” Ossola said.
Other changes suggested by the commission included maximizing green space around the newly created picnic area at the beginning of the oval, as well as around the new sports courts; and the scope of the new warming hut building.
Jaquet said those elements will be addressed throughout the next stages.