Oak Creek Barb Parnell said it was a bit emotional for her on Thursday to listen to town leaders in Oak Creek talk about all the recreational amenities that have sprung up in their town in recent years.
Four years ago, Parnell, Livewell Northwest Colorado's community coordinator, was part of a small group of people just talking about ideas.
A new pump track.
A better park.
An afterschool recreation program.
“We all wanted to put recreation on the radar,” she said.
Today, there are many signs it certainly is.
That pump track was built two years ago on land that used to house old settling ponds.
Some new hiking and cross country trails are in town.
Next year, there are plans to improve Decker Park by adding things like a new basketball court and disc golf.
“We are just so pumped for all the changes that have happened here,” she said, adding the availability of grant money from a variety of sources, including Livewell, Great Outdoors Colorado and the Colorado Health Foundation, has helped the town boost its recreational offerings.
The momentum continued Thursday when a team of planners from the Colorado Center of Community Development, or CCCD, arrived in town to help update the recreational master plan for Oak Creek.
The group that includes students from the University of Colorado Denver previously helped the town plan such things as the new play area and basketball court at Soroco Middle School.
It took Anthony Pozzuoli only a few hours on his first visit to town to see more potential.
The recent landscape architecture graduate said Oak Creek's ice rink, which sits dormant in the summer months, could host something like a skate park to keep it busy year-round.
“These plans will help the town get those grants,” said Vickie Berkley, the assistant director for civic engagement at CCCD.
When town leaders met with the design group Thursday night, Mayor Nikki Knoebel said she was excited to see where the latest master plan leads, and the town needs to continue thinking outside the box.
She said there already is talk of creating the town's first campground, an idea that was met with enthusiasm by South Routt County's Economic Development Council.
Parnell said each of the new recreational opportunities helps to boost healthy lifestyles in the town.
“We see more people exercising for longer periods of time,” she said. "People are more active because they have more places to go. When you have something that's close to you and it's convenient, you do it more.”