The Youth Art Park is the final park in the master plan for the Rio Grande Trail ArtWay that runs through Carbondale, and Amy Kimberly, the Executive Director of Carbondale Arts, is driving the creation of the park.
Kimberly said, “We had committed to doing three parks, and in five years we’ve been able to create two wonderful parks, and this will be the last one. We worked with youths from the Carbondale Middle School, as well as representatives of two architectural firms: Andrea Korber of Land + Shelter, and Kurt Peterson from Forum Phi.
Korber and Peterson both worked with the kids. Teams were formed, and each team created their vision for the Youth Art Park. The kids came up with lots of wonderful, creative ideas. They created models and we took their ideas out to the public. Then we received a $35,000 grant for the Youth Art Park from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), which is money that comes from the state lottery. We also received generous donations from the Addy Foundation and First Bank. We’re getting a good head-start.”
A portion of the donated money was used to hire Nicholas DiFrank, a current Carbondale Arts Board Member who holds master’s degrees in both Landscape Architecture and Urban Design. Kimberly reports that DiFrank “has taken all of the ideas and created a real plan for the space, which is located right behind the Carbondale Recreation Center.”
When asked to comment on the Youth Art Park, DiFrank promised, “You won’t see a ‘Do Not Touch’ sign anywhere.” Among other design elements of the new park, Kimberly credits DiFrank for coming up with the idea of incorporating a “parkour-like feature” for older kids. DiFrank referred this correspondent to a Web page that defined parkour as “a movement-based activity that involves seeing one’s environment as an obstacle course, while imagining new ways to navigate it by running, jumping, climbing, swinging and tumbling around, through, over and under features.”
However, instead of just calling it by that name, Kimberly said, “We are incorporating both park and play,” so that section of the park best tuned to the interests of the older kids will be called “p-ART-kour.” Other features within the park will include a creative play area for the young children, and a multi-purpose amphitheater that can be used for everything from a performance area to an outdoor classroom.
Kimberly noted that “We really designed it so that there will be something for a range of different ages: There will be an area that younger kids will like, and an area that we think older kids will enjoy – especially with the ‘p-ART-kour’ obstacle course. We are going to work with CORE on creating a ‘Recharge Station,’ where you can recharge your devices with the use of a stationary bike.”
Kimberly credits the kids in the seventh grade for coming up with that idea. The design also incorporates a couple of mural walls, and Kimberly also hopes it will be a space for each year’s senior class to leave their mark.
The Youth Art Park plan calls for breaking ground in the Spring of 2021, though it may be completed in phases.
“Each of these parks has been a huge project. We have been able to create these spaces much cheaper because they are stewarded by the community, and created by the community, and that will be true with the Youth Art Park too,” Kimberly commented. “The whole Rio Grande ArtWay is considered a creative place-making project. It really is about the community coming together to make it happen. Right now, we have the project on display … at CarbondaleArts.com.”
The project design will also be prominently displayed in the Launchpad and the lobby at First Bank for the next three weeks. Kimberly welcomes suggestions from the community, and people can always get in touch with her at Carbondale Arts.
Regarding future plans for the ArtWay, the final section, between Fourth Street and Snowmass Drive, will be dedicated to local history.