After several years in the making, the ground has been broken for the Youth Art Park on the Rio Grande Trail behind Town Hall in Carbondale. This is the latest installment planned along the ARTway.
A group of committed people who brought the dream together gathered on Thursday, July 7 to celebrate at the site. Carbondale Arts Executive Director Amy Kimberly thanked a slew of them.
First on her list was Brett Meredith, trails and corridor manager with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. “[He] has been my partner every step of the way,” Kimerbly said. “Honestly, if we didn’t have a partner like Brett, none of this would have happened.” Ahead of the celebration, Meredith and his crew cleared the area where the Youth Art Park will rise.
Kimberly went on to thank the town of Carbondale and, specifically, Eric Brendlinger, director of Parks and Recreation, for having “always been there in many of our whacky ideas and endeavors.” Kimberly noted that the town assisted in obtaining a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for the project.
Other partners thus far include: the Roaring Fork School District, Land + Shelter Architects, Great Outdoors Colorado, The Addy Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (which is funding the sculpture), Colorado Creative Industries and FirstBank. “These people have helped us get this far,” said Kimberly.
The team didn’t take any shortcuts. “Our community’s safety is first and foremost,” stated Kimberly. “We wanted to do it right and that required a lot of help.”
Over $75,000 was raised for the project, with a goal of $200,000. To help close the gap, community members and institutions have stepped up. Alpine Bank donated $22,000, raised through its loyalty debit-card program for environmental card holders, to build an amphitheater in the park.
Kat and Pete Rich, who up until the celebration chose to remain anonymous, were revealed for their generous contribution toward the Unity/Unidad sculpture to be dedicated to Kimberly and the late Ro Mead.
“Fifteen years ago, I met these amazing women who have shown me so much about building community, being true to who you are and providing pathways for the rest of our community to do the same,” Kat stated.
Every year the Unity sculpture, in the shape of Mount Sopris, will don a fresh mural created by each graduating class of Roaring Fork High School.
Colorado Stone Quarries, who operate the Yule Creek Mine in Marble, will donate marble to be incorporated throughout the park.
Nicholas DiFrank of Regarding Land, a landscape architect firm based in the Valley, headed up the design component for the park. DiFrank is also a Carbondale Arts board member.
DiFrank “has been the visionary behind the final design here at the Youth Art Park,” Kimberly stated. “He took all of our mish-mashed ideas and coalesced them into something that is going to be incredible for this community.”
“It all started with this idea of ‘p-ART-kour,’” DiFrank told The Sopris Sun. “P-ART-kour” combines creativity and parkour — an active form of play.
The park will fit inside an area that’s 40 feet by 200 feet on the north side of the trail, bordering Downtown North, and will be ADA accessible.
“The hope is to get a lot of it done this summer and next spring. So, hopefully a year from now this will look a lot different,” joked Kimberly, gesturing to the empty space — a blank canvas.
“I want to point out that this is one of the biggest projects Carbondale Arts has put together,” said Carbondale Arts board member Leah Swan. “The vision is becoming something that we can all work toward but we can’t do it without our sponsors.”
There are still opportunities to sponsor various features in the park. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org