This map outlines improvements to be made at the Redstone Park. Courtesy graphic

After a nearly two-year planning process, Redstone Park is set for an extensive renovation and restoration project. The work, budgeted at some $536,000, is scheduled to begin on June 1.

The park lies between the Crystal River and Redstone Boulevard and is popular with both residents and visitors. It is managed by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails (OST).

The county purchased the land in unincorporated Redstone in the 1970s and placed it under OST in 1999. A small parcel, just to the north, was added in 2009. Two other nearby county parks — Redstone Boulders Open Space, farther north along the Crystal, and Elk Park, just southwest across the river — are also managed by OST.

In a recent press release, Carly Klein, OST’s senior planner said, “Open Space is looking forward to breaking ground at Redstone Park and improving the park for residents and visitors.” She added, “We’ve heard so much from the community about the appreciation for this park through the public process for the park improvements.”

The nearly 50-year-old park (the first work on it dates to 1974) definitely was showing its age, with deteriorating infrastructure and facilities. Notable are the two iconic white marble picnic tables, which have been gradually sinking into the ground.

A community effort

The impetus for restoring the park dates to the “Redstone Parks and Open Space Management Plan,” a comprehensive document on all three area parks released by OST in 2010. That document identified many of the key issues that needed to be addressed and provided the blueprint for how OST and the community would approach the 2022 project.

Fast forward a decade, to the summer of 2020, when a 14-member steering committee began determining the scope and direction of the work. It adopted architect Mies van der Rohe’s famous aphorism “less is more” as its guiding principle, emphasizing “preservation of the natural and rustic character of the park, and the need to balance its active and passive uses.”

The committee comprised members from throughout the community, including representatives from the Redstone Community Association, Redstone Historic Preservation Commission and Crystal Valley Caucus. It worked for several months via virtual meetings during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Klein told The Sopris Sun that although the pandemic “didn’t put much of a damper” on the schedule, it did limit opportunities for in-person public participation.

Committee member Gentrye Houghton (also editor of The Crystal Valley Echo) told The Sun, “The process was interesting. [It was] a small committee with a lot of opinions” at first. But, over time, “we really blended” all of the opinions and came up with a unified draft plan that would make the park “a more inviting place.”

That plan, released for public comment in early 2021, received “generally supportive” feedback and was endorsed by the Crystal Valley Caucus. After further public input, the plan was finalized by DHM Design of Carbondale. It was approved by the OST board and Pitkin County commissioners in late 2021, and the county Planning and Zoning Commission gave its endorsement this spring. Money for the project is coming from OST and a county parks fund.

The project

Major components of the work include replacing the existing gazebo with a larger structure that will include lighting and sound equipment; making the bridge connecting the park with Elk Park across the river ADA accessible; improving the existing “informal” ice rink at the north end of the park and better integrating the parcel into the rest of the park; moving and renovating the rink’s associated warming shed; stabilizing the levee and improving access to the river; and reconfiguring and resurfacing the playground area.

Klein noted that one of the most expensive projects would be raising the marble picnic tables and resetting them on new concrete pads. She also reiterated, “[The] aim is not to redo the park but [to make] small improvements throughout.”

DHM’s Jason Jaynes (a Redstone resident) will act as project manager, with Carbondale’s Environmental Excavation chosen to make the general park improvements. Aspen Carpenter Services will be responsible for such components as the new gazebo, the skate shed work and the picnic table restoration. The major projects are expected to be completed by the end of July, with all work finished by the end of August.

Klein said that some portions of the park will be open nearly all of the time during construction. She also mentioned that Redstone’s popular summer concert series will be hosted across the river near the Redstone Coke Ovens, as it was in 2021, “because there was more room” there than in the park.

Houghton noted that the series had “outgrown the park” and its relatively confined space for concertgoers. She added how excited she was about the renovation project. “It was time to give [the park] some love.”