Donated playground spruces up apartments


— Up on a hillside, tucked away in the heart of Steamboat Springs lies an old, blue apartment complex faded by weather and time. It provides a sharp contrast to the shiny, colorful new playground equipment sitting next to it... a perfect place for the Lava Monster!
The monster is the creation of the children who live in the Hillside Village Apartments, one of the few areas in Steamboat where working families can rent at a reasonable rate.
A new playground there, built by Leadership Steamboat, has really sparked the imagination of children like 9-year-old Lauren Olds.
"If there's three or four of us, we act like the sand is lava and there's a monster down there," said Olds, a fourth-grader at Strawberry Park. "One kid hangs onto the monkey bars and we hang onto each other to keep from falling" into the lava.
Jeanne Whiddon, a member of Leadership Steamboat, is thrilled with the new playground she and others helped build.
"We're just happy we left something tangible," said Whiddon, who is also the Routt Country treasurer. "It will be here in 20 years and we can still see it."
Leadership Steamboat took on the project as part of its curriculum. The program is made up of a group of seminars sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Mountain College. Leadership Steamboat offers seminars help train residents take on leadership roles, hence its name.
The playground idea was recommended by the Regional Affordable Living Foundation, which manages the Hillside Village Apartments. The bare-bones complex appears to offer shelter and little else.
"Hopefully, we've enhanced the affordable living experience in that apartment complex," said Whiddon.
"I love it. It's fun," said Olds, who has already set up tot chairs underneath the slides and monkey bars. "But, I wish they had swings," she added.
The playground will serve about 50 children in the Hillside complex but it is also open to anyone living in the Fish Creek Falls area near Tamarack Drive and Hilltop Parkway.
Just watch out for the Lava Monster.

To reach Frances Hohl, call 871-4208.


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