South Routt Middle School students play basketball on a new court Friday. The court and other playground improvements were completed before the start of this school year.

Photo by Scott Franz

South Routt Middle School students play basketball on a new court Friday. The court and other playground improvements were completed before the start of this school year.

Playground improvement projects come to fruition in Oak Creek

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— A steep and grassy hill in Oak Creek recently morphed into a playground full of possibilities.

On Friday, Soroco Middle School student Emma Field pointed around this new playground at her school with a smile on her face.

That's where we play basketball, the girl said.

That's where we throw a football.

That's where we play four square.

And that's where we roll down the hill.

A boy nearby was leaning up against a concrete wall and reading a book, seemingly undistracted by all the children who were jockeying for a basketball a few feet away.

“Instead of having recess in a tiny area, we have this,” Emma said.

Yes, the newly renovated play area at the small middle school has proven popular with these children who report recess is now something they are more eager to attend.

In a way, the playground is a single highlight of a bigger transformation in this small community in South Routt County.

New trails are being planned. A bike park has sprung up. And soon, a new playground, basketball court and disc golf course will be installed at Decker Park.

“It's long overdue,” Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen said about the improvements at Decker Park.

The new playground work starts May 15, and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps volunteers will start improving trails at the park June 29.

Oak Creek last year received a $62,340 Great Outdoors Colorado grant to help complete some of the repairs and improvements at the park.

The work will come as the town also gets a new recreation master plan completed by planners from the Colorado Center of Community Development that includes the possibility of such things as campgrounds closer to town.

The town has been soliciting feedback in recent weeks on the plan.

Page-Allen said the feedback has been broad.

She said students at local schools were excited to hear the renovation of Decker Park would add amenities for students of all ages with a playground for younger students and a disc golf course for older students.

She said seniors at a recent community luncheon stressed they wanted to see more connectivity in the leisurely trails around town, but they also had some concern about how all the new amenities would be funded and maintained.

The new recreational amenities in Oak Creek are being funded by a mix of town funding and grants from the Colorado Health Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado and LiveWell Colorado.

Page-Allen said that working to ensure the amenities are fully utilized also will be a way to ensure they are maintained.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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