Henderson Park on cusp of reopening

No weird duck but lots of art

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

A Crested Butte project that has experienced two years in delays should be completed next month and ultimately provide an upgraded pocket park geared toward 2-year-old to 5-year-old kids. The 1,250-square-foot Henderson Park located at Third and Whiterock is expected to have a grand opening by the end of August after delays caused by COVID and equipment and staffing shortages.

Originally built in the 1970s to honor local school teacher Betty Henderson, Crested Butte Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails director Janna Hansen said the play equipment was well past its useable life so a renovation was in order. She said that in partnership with the Crested Butte Creative District, the town worked to combine arts and recreation while creating a social place for parents and caregivers to gather with small children.

As part of the $60,000 project, the town received a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and the intention was to have the park completed in 2020. But the town pushed off all capital construction projects that year given the unknowns of the pandemic. Then, delays in play equipment manufacturing and contractor staffing shortage in 2021 further pushed the project back another year. Now it should be completed this August.

“Sadly, the Giddyup Duck is gone as the Town’s insurance provider found it to be unsafe,” Hansen said. “The Town went through a public planning and outreach process in 2019 to determine the amenities that should be included in the park. During public meetings and in a community survey staff heard that the desire was to create a little refuge close to Elk Ave. with new play features for 2- to 5-year-olds, picnic spaces, public art, trees and perennial gardens while providing a safer and more accessible user experience.”

Hansen said that the town worked collaboratively with the Creative District and Public Arts Commission to incorporate local art including a custom steel entrance arch and mushroom sculptures designed by Heather Bischoff of Bish Productions (“Bish”) and created by Ben Eaton of Get Bent Blacksmithing. There will be a custom painted picnic table and bench featuring wildflowers and table-top games also by Bish. A mosaic ADA accessible picnic table painted by children at the Trailhead Children’s Museum and designed by Sarah Beabout and Sarah Broadwell is included in the design as is custom stone stepping pavers designed by Bish and created by ID Sculpture. A spiral game table and interactive play panels provide entertainment for 2- to 5-year-olds.

“We heard from the community that there was concern about the proximity of a play area for young children to busy Whiterock Ave.,” Hansen explained. “So the park will include a decorative powder coated wrought iron fence along Whiterock Ave. and parts of Third St. that will create a safe zone for small children and a buffer from these busy streets. The fence will tie into the entrance arch on the Third St. side of the park. The perennial gardens, trees and shrubs were designed and planted by Alpine Landscapes.”

She said the local artists and staff are putting the final touches on the park with the hope of a grand opening ceremony to take place by the end of the month.

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