Crow’s nest, cannons and whale bones
by Mark Reaman
The final design for the new play park that will be located behind the expanded Crested Butte Center for the Arts is shaping up. The pirate-themed playground should have a final design this month, with construction documents completed by February. Construction bids will go out by next March and if everything falls into place construction could begin in the summer of 2018.
With an additional 2,500 square feet of playground area, compared to the former Mary Yelenick Playground, the park is being designed to appeal to everyone from toddlers to adults. It will still be named the Mary Yelenick Playground after a longtime local schoolteacher and will retain the original pirate theme of the wooden pirate “splinter” ship.
The pirate shipwreck play area design is based upon the Whydah, a real pirate ship that sank in 1717 and was discovered by Crested Butte local Barry Clifford in 1984. Crewed by many Crested Butte residents, Expedition Whydah located and excavated the first-ever documented pirate shipwreck, the Whydah Gally.
The playground concept design includes 15,000 square feet of area programming and, thanks to the Clifford family and the Center for Historic Shipwreck Preservation, will have elements cast from authentic pirate artifacts.
An open house was held November 6 to show off the design that includes swings, slides, hammocks, a crow’s nest, replicas of cannons and whale bones, a picnic area and half-court basketball court. The $550,000 project is being subsidized with a $350,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant from the state. Other donors include the town, the Center for the Arts and the Gunnison County Met Rec district.
“The community wanted something unique,” explained Crested Butte Parks and Recreation director Janna Hansen. “No one wanted a typical plastic playground. Andris Zobs of local playground manufacturer IDSculpture and his team did a really nice job designing interactive accessible features.”
Mundus Bishop landscape architect Rachel Scarborough said the area will present all sorts of opportunities for the kids who play there. “Spinning, climbing, tunneling can all be done in these diversified structures,” she said.
Zobs and his crew designed a shipwreck out of sculpted concrete and guaranteed that the park would withstand the rigors of Crested Butte kids and weather.
Crested Butte town councilman Jim Schmidt brought up his consistent problem with the design: bathroom facilities located farther from Pitsker Field. The design includes exterior-accessible bathrooms on the east side of the existing Center for the Arts and calls for the demolition of the Pitsker bathrooms.
It is hoped the playground will be ready to open in the spring of 2019.