CPRA Byline - Winter 2021

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cpra-web.org | Winter 2021

ALSO INSIDE: • EMBRACING OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH • BREAKING BARRIERS THROUGH INCLUSIVE PLAY

RECREATION

REBOOT Stories of ingenuity as Colorado agencies adapt and reinvent to overcome COVID-19 hurdles


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2 • Colorado Byline | Summer 2020

Are YOU Playgr

At Delta Timber & Landscape Supply, we know child safety is top priority to you. We would appreciate the opportunity to work within your budgetary restraints to make sure that all of your playgrounds are covered with IPEMA Certified Playgound Surfacing.

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CONTENTS

FEATURES RECREATION REBOOT 8 Town of Erie By Matt Brown and Erika Eaton 11 City of Steamboat Springs By Alexis Wolf, Dmitry Chase, and Nick Carelli 14 Town of Erie By Charles Flinn

Allison Kincaid Executive Director allisonk@cpra-web.org

16 City and County of Denver By Casey Gray 18

Adams County By Zoe Ocampo

24

Fitness Transformed By Victoria Webster

Ashley Perillo Professional Development Program Manager ashleyp@cpra-web.org

28 Breaking Barriers Through Inclusive Play By Leslie Amico

DEPARTMENTS 4 5 8

Member Spotlights: Beth June & Zach Venn Industry Partner: The Playwell Group Career Development: Embracing Opportunities

CPRA WEBINAR CALENDAR March 23 Lessons from the Road to LeadHERship Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Recreation March 25

Whack-a-Mole is Not a Leadership Strategy Sponsored by Churchich Recreation

April 26, May 3, & May 10

The PlayWell Group Presents: Playground Maintenance Academy – Managing an Asset to Minimize Risk and Maximize Fun Sponsored by The Playwell Group

April 27

Bouncing Back From COVID: Adapt, Innovate, Overcome Sponsored by OLC

April 29

Social Togetherness During Social Distancing

Register for webinars at www.cpra-web.org. ADVERTISER INDEX

Churchich Recreation – churchichrecreation.net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 CPRA Byline – cpra-web.org/page/byline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 CPRA Photo Contest – bitly.com/CPRAPhotoContest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Delta Timber – deltatimber.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IFC Discount Playground Supply – discountplaygroundsupply.com . . . . . . . . . 6 Essenza Architecture – architectcolorado.net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IBC Ground Solutions / Bedrock Slingers – groundsolutionsco.com. . . . . . . IBC Gyms for Dogs – GymsForDogs.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Horizon - horizononline.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 John Deere - johndeere.com/local . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Pilot Rock - pilotrock.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Rocky Mountain Recreation - rmreccom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BC

Colorado Byline is the quarterly publication of Colorado Parks & Recreation Association (CPRA) and is provided as a benefit to members. Submit your article to www. cpra-web.org/page/bylinearticlesub under publication resources. Submissions are edited and published as space allows. Letters to the editor, suggestions, comments and encouragement are welcome. Expressed opinions and statements in this publication do not necessarily represent the opinions of the CPRA board of directors or its membership.

COLORADO PARKS & RECREATION ASSOCIATION PO BOX 1037 Wheat Ridge, CO 80034 [P] 303-231-0943 [F] 303-237-9750 cpra@cpra-web.org www.cpra-web.org

Mission: Promote the parks and recreation profession and its growth throughout the State of Colorado. Vision: A dynamic, proactive organization that creates healthy residents and livable communities by promoting excellence in parks and recreation.

Rachel Hungerbuhler Professional Development Program Coordinator rachelh@cpra-web.org Jillian Strogis Membership & Communications Coordinator jillians@cpra-web.org

Colorado Byline is the official member magazine of CPRA, Colorado Parks & Recreation Association. CPRA is a dynamic, proactive organization that creates healthy residents and livable communities by promoting excellence in parks and recreation.

2020-2021 CPRA BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT Justin Perdue City of Greeley 970-350-9548 justin.perdue@greeleygov.com PRESIDENT-ELECT Hillary Roemersberger Apex Park & Recreation District 720-898-3412 hillaryr@apexprd.org SECRETARY/TREASURER Molly Elder City of Loveland 970-962-2728 molly.elder@cityofloveland.org AT-LARGE Leah Huffer-Solomon Denver Parks & Recreation 720-865-0825 leah.huffer@denvergov.org AT-LARGE Chad Redin City of Commerce City 303-289-3663 credin@c3gov.com AT-LARGE Clay Shuck City and County of Broomfield 303-460-6903 cshuck@broomfield.org AT-LARGE Mark Snow, CPRE, CTRS City of Colorado Springs 719-385-6958 mark.snow@coloradosprings.gov

2021 CPRA ADVISORY COUNCIL AAPS Cindy Hickman Town of Erie 303-926-2795 chickman@erieco.gov AQUATICS Philip Henry City of Boulder 303-413-7478 henryp@bouldercolorado.gov CARA Nicole Reeves Widefield Parks & Recreation District 719-391-3528 reevesn@wsd3.org DIRECTORS Alison Rhodes City of Boulder Parks & Recreation 303-413-7249 rhodesa@bouldercolorado.gov FACILITY MANAGEMENT Matt Pilger City of Boulder Parks & Recreation 303-441-3449 pilgerm@bouldercolorado.gov FITNESS Glen Batista Denver Parks & Recreation 720-865-0672 glen.batista@denvergov.org PARKS Tony Jaramillo City of Commerce City 303-289-8166 tjaramillo@c3gov.com PLAaY Sarah Gange City of Loveland 970-962-2467 sarah.gagne@cityofloveland.org TRSC Beth Gessert Denver Parks and Recreation-Adaptive Recreation 720-865-0826 elizabeth.gessert@denvergov.org PUBLISHER / ADVERTISING: Todd Pernsteiner, Publisher Pernsteiner Creative Group 952-841-1111 todd@pernsteiner.com www.pernsteiner.comw

GO DIGITAL View this issue online at cpra-web.org/page/byline. Keep up on all things CPRA via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 3


MEMBER SPOTLIGHTS

Meet Beth June & Zach Venn Beth June and Zach Venn just finished their 3-year term as CPRA’s Awards Co-Chairs. They have been invaluable in their role the past three years with the dedication, charm, and love they brought to each Awards Ceremony they’ve hosted. This past year in particular required additional creativity and commitment to provide an engaging ceremony that would honor and celebrate our awardees virtually - and they did not disappoint! From Beth’s stellar interior design skills building the set to Zach’s impressive video recording and editing skills, and all the interviewing and preparation in between, they went even more above and beyond than usual! We can never thank Zach and Beth enough for all they’ve done for CPRA staff and members in their reign as Awards Co-Chairs and as the sparkling examples of Colorado Parks & Recreation Professionals that they are.

By Chad Redin, Recreation Manager, City of Commerce City

CPRA Awards Co-Chair, Beth June, is a hardworking, innovative professional, dedicated to serving the Wheat Ridge community since 2002. Currently working as a youth & therapeutic recreation coordinator, she is a truly ray of sunshine, sharing her warmth and positivity with all co-workers and program participants. Beth’s direct supervisor, Stephen Clyde, shared that she “truly cares about kids, families and their situations, and strives to use her vocation as a way to help people.” In addition to her

role with the annual awards program, she is actively involved in the PLaAY and TRSC sections of CPRA. While we all have played a role in serving our community through the pandemic, Beth embraced a leadership role very early on, creatively planning and implementing an amazing summer camp experience for the youth of Wheat Ridge, under very atypical circumstances. She can even be seen from time to time dressed up as the Wheat Ridge Parks & Recreation mascot, Booster the Rooster!

We are extremely lucky to have Beth’s energy, enthusiasm and passion serving CPRA & the City of Wheat Ridge.

By Karen O’Donnell, CPRE, CTRS, Parks & Recreation Director, City of Wheat Ridge

Zach Venn has worked for the City of Commerce City for 6 years as an Aquatic Supervisor and has recently moved into a new role as Community Connections and Inclusion Supervisor. Prior to working for Commerce City, Zach also worked with the City of Westminster and Foothills Park and Recreation District in various aquatic positions. Zach is an instrumental part of the Commerce City team fostering professionalism, teamwork, and fun into our culture. Over the past six years, Zach has been the professional force in building our outdoor water park, Paradise Island, the aquatic area at Bison Ridge Recreation Center, and the therapy pool at Eagle Pointe Recreation Center. During this process, Zach has built an aquatic team that takes satisfaction in their job, safety, teaching others to swim, and providing a

relaxing environment for all that come to swim. Teamwork and fun with Zach are always one in the same. He never hesitates to put himself in the “spotlight” by being Buddy the elf at the Recreation Departments Cereal with Santa holiday event or Spartan Cheerleader Craig, from the Saturday Night Live skit, at a Department Retreat. One also never knows when Zach will come into your office and break into song, or a skit from a sitcom or movie. Beyond his dedication to Commerce City, Zach has also been an integral part of CPRA. Zach has supported CPRA by being involved in the aquatic section serving as chair and board representative. He has also been involved with the CPRA award committee as co-host of the awards banquet the last couple of years.

Zach is an instrumental part of the Commerce City team fostering professionalism, teamwork, and fun into our culture. 4 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021


INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT

Playwell Group We want to extend a thank you to each and every one of the park professionals of CPRA. After working with professionals like yourself for over 35 years we know this can be a thankless profession at times so if you have not heard it lately – thank you for what you do. We want to shine the spotlight on our local presence in the great state of Colorado, Jason Gruwell. Some of you will recognize him Thewith Infield. Thefield Outfield. from past events or from working him in the on projects. The Jason can take care of anything in aCourse. park that doesn’t grow – shelters, fabric shade, site furnishings, outdoor fitness equipment, Horizon’s got you covered no matter where you score. etc. Give him a call on your next project. We are excited to announce our newest playground partner starting in the 2nd quarter of 2021. After a year of getting to know and learn about our friends at Earthscape we are thrilled that we have joined together with them along with our many other partners. Earthscape provides a unique custom playground designbuild experience. We will be able to provide this new product in all five of the states that we serve, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arkansas. Take a look at this unique line at earthscapeplay.com

Jason Gruwell

Learn more about The Playwell Group at playwellgroup.com, or contact Fertilizerorand soil amendments, tools, chemicals, seed, mowers Jason at (720) 346-5411 jason@playwellgroup.com.

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Schedule your delivery today—before the season gets in |full swing. irrigation outdoor living | landscape | equipment Your local Horizon: Littleton, CO 4971 S Rio Grande St | 303.934.3200Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 5


Everything for Park & Playgrounds Parts • Supplies • Furnishings YOUR ONE SOURCE • Replacement swing parts • Playground borders • Site furnishings: picnic tables, benches, grills, trash cans • Sports items: basketball, tennis, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse • Dog Parks: waste products, agility equipment • And Much More!

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Easy online ordering: www.discountplaygroundsupply.com

2021 CPRA BYLINE MAGAZINE PHOTO CONTEST

Submit your favorite photos! NEW PHOTO CONTEST WINNER WILL RECEIVE A

2021 CONFERENCE REGISTRATION! Photo Contest Categories: • Parks & Playgrounds • Recreation & Programming • Trails, Nature & Conservation

Enter your best programming and site photos. The CPRA member’s photo with the most votes wins “Best of Show” and a 2021 CPRA Conference registration. The top three photos receiving the most votes in each category will be featured in the Summer 2021 issue of CPRA BYLINE magazine.

Entries due by April 15, 2021. Online voting runs April 16-May 14, 2021. Photos taken between Jan. 1, 2020 and May 15, 2021 are eligible to be submitted. Questions? Email Todd Pernsteiner at todd@pernsteiner.com

See rules and submission info at www.bit.ly/CPRAPhotoContest

6 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021

SCAN FOR CONTEST PAGE


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Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 7


CAREER DEVELOPMENT

Embracing Opportunities for Growth By John Weaver, CPRP, CPSI, Parks Skilled Maintenance Supervisor, City of Colorado Springs

It is truly a privilege to have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in our communities. Through fostering and implementing park and recreation experiences, we touch and improve the lives of so many citizens and visitors alike. In order to make the most of this tremendous opportunity, I strive to learn and grow so I am able to serve the community to the best of my ability. One of the most amazing things about our industry is the people who work in it. We are very lucky that professionals in the Parks and Recreation field lift each other up and help one another problem solve. The mentality in this field isn’t how can I be the best, it is how can we be the best, all of us. It is a collaborative and collective effort to help one another. This is why professional development can be so accessible. Many professionals in our field are willing to help, mentor, and share their knowledge. All you have to do is ask. Learning and growth can take several forms and it doesn’t always have to be formal. Networks, projects, and committees can be one of the most accessible and effective ways to learn and grow. No matter who you are, there is always someone out there who can teach you something. Building your network is how to you find those people, and it is free! CPRA and your own organization are great places to start. No matter if you have been working for 1 month or 40 years, building your own personal Board of Directors will not only be empowering, it will help to guide you in ways you

can’t even begin to imagine on your own. When you tap into the power of the people around you, your own potential begins to grow exponentially. CPRA has done a phenomenal job to facilitate opportunities for professional development, mentorship, networking, and information sharing. They offer numerous courses, conferences, conversations, focus groups, discussion boards, sections, events, countless connections, and a mentorship program. They are an indispensable resource for professional development and networking. Raising your hand and developing the courage and curiosity to take on a new project can also be an excellent way to learn. I believe there is no greater way to learn than by doing. Setting yourself up for success with a new project means understanding your own limitations and what resources you will need to be successful. It takes the courage to be vulnerable enough to ask a lot of questions and be willing to put in the extra effort to learn, while simultaneously performing the task effectively. There are also formal avenues for professional development. There are many courses, certifications, and degrees available in person and online. Some organizations may offer internal training or a leadership academy. With so many opportunities, it is just a matter of honing in on what skills you would like to develop and start by taking one step at a time to achieve your goals.

I chose to start my professional development from where I was, and then build on the skills that would help to achieve my long term goals. I began by becoming a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) to directly expand my technical capabilities in my role. I also volunteered and joined the CPRA Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) to build my own network and develop my leadership abilities. Those experiences prompted me to become a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP), which gave me a better understanding of the Parks and Recreation industry as a whole. Next, I wanted to expand my network and effectiveness within my organization and applied (numerous times) until I was accepted into the Broomfield Leadership Academy. Development occurs one step at a time, and it usually requires persistence and perseverance. Recently I set my sights on becoming a Certified Public Manager (CPM). The CPM program is an amazing opportunity offered through the University of Colorado Denver in partnership with CPRA. This intensive program combines many of the aspects I have been building upon: a better understanding of local government, personal development, interpersonal skills, business acumen, operations management, and leadership. Participants in the program come from a variety of backgrounds in government operations from the local, state, and federal levels. The classes are designed not only to teach useful concepts, but to create a space and dialogue where

Raising your hand and developing the courage and curiosity to take on a new project can also be an excellent way to learn. I believe there is no greater way to learn than by doing. 8 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021


Professional development is not a lone journey. It requires a commitment to yourself and those you are striving to help. It also requires support from those closest to you. some of the best government professionals can share their knowledge and experiences. Most of the classes are taught by current or former City Managers and other high level government leaders. Many participants in the CPM program are tenured professionals with several years of government experience. This program pushed me well outside of my comfort zone, as I was one of the least experienced participants. This opportunity exposed me to some of the great personalities and thought processes of local government leaders. It inspired me to sharpen and practice the skills I have learned and strive for continuous improvement. The experience from this program energized me in a new way and made me realize I still have much to learn. I will never stop learning. The CPM program can be utilized as 6 credit hours towards a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA), which inspired me to keep pushing and enroll to complete my MPA. I have found it very useful to stay curious and follow the things that give me energy. Ask yourself, what excites you and gives you energy in your professional life? How can you deepen and improve that thing? Find any opportunity you can to pursue the things that energize you! Professional development is not a lone journey. It requires a commitment to yourself and those you are striving to help. It also requires support from those closest to you. This might be one of the best parts of the journey, discovering how many people support your aspirations and believe in you. From a partner, a friend, a family member, to mentors, supervisors, or scholarship provider, there are so many people who believe in you and want to see you succeed. I am one of those people, and ready to help you continue or start your journey. Please feel free to connect with me through CPRA’s new Connected Communities if I can be of any assistance or support. Just ask yourself what you want, how you will get there, and then take a step. You won’t regret it, I guarantee it.

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Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 9


RECREATION

REBOOT Stories of ingenuity as Colorado agencies adapt and reinvent to overcome COVID-19 hurdles

ADAMS COUNTY DENVER ERIE STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

10 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021


Town of Erie Aquatics Team Dives to New Depths – in Uncharted Waters By Matt Brown and Erika Eaton, Aquatics Staff, Erie Parks and Recreation

The COVID 19 pandemic put an abrupt halt to all of our plans for 2020. Sounds of kids laughing and splashing in our pool during open swim. Gone. The excitement of parents and kids of their accomplishments in swim lessons. Gone. The controlled chaos of open swim and the inevitable sound of whistles from lifeguards asking a kid to walk for the 5th time (not exaggerating). Gone. Even the constant talk from water aerobics community clamoring for warmer water would have been preferred

to the deafening silence radiating from our once thriving Community Center. As the silence filled our once busy pool and Community Center, the talk went from how excited we were to implement our new programming to staff wondering if and or/when we would see people enter our building again. The Erie Community Center was closed from March 13 to June 15 and even though our doors were closed, it did not mean we closed our business. In fact, just the

opposite. Our aquatics team at the Erie Community Center used this closure to reflect on what we did well, revamp things we needed to improve on and adjust how we do business. Our Aquatics team attacked this closure on three fronts: Aquatic Operations, Programming, and Staff growth. All were approached with a singular thought of when the meet the public again we will be a better version of ourselves then when we closed.

Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 11


During the time of our closure we were able to reschedule and complete two major CIP projects in April which were originally scheduled for August during our usual maintenance week shut down. We installed a new defender filtration system on our main pool. Along with the new defender filtration system, we also installed a Clear Comfort System on our hot tub which is a secondary sanitation system to allow our hot tub to run normally but with fewer chemicals needed. Our water slide also was repaired to fix leaks and the flume was waxed to allow for a smoother ride. By completing these projects in April, we able to avoid a second shut down in August. In addition to the big capital projects, came the prevalent yearly tasks which was a great way to keep staff working.

Aloha Birthday parties were a joint venture with our Guest Service team to use our underutilized pool and the deck/ outside spray garden.

12 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021

We resealed and painted the pool deck surface to add more grip so to keep our guests from slipping. We drained the pool and power washed the plaster of the pool and hot tub to get oils and mineral deposits off. We deep cleaned all of our pool tiles, scraping off calcium deposits and removing scum line stains helping to make our pool look cleaner and newer then when we shut down. New pool equipment was ordered to allow for us to have enough for all swimmers to receive their own swim bag full of equipment that can be sanitized after each use. With the challenges of trying to follow ever changing public health orders, we only found solutions on how to reorganize our programming to keep our participants safe. Private swim lessons, water aerobics, Lifeguard

Training classes and trainings were all taught with social distancing, proper PPE, and in accordance with Red Cross guidelines. We placed a parent/guardian in the water assisting the swim lesson participant while the instructor taught from the deck with a mask on. For lifeguard training and lifeguarding certification classes, we ordered a full life-size rescue mannequin so lifeguards were able to make rescues instead of making rescues on one another. We also provided the opportunity for participants to bring in a family member to practice saves on. We switched from relying on our own staff to conduct our programs to allowing outside agencies to reserve lane space for use of the pool. Synchronized swim teams have rented a total of 100+ hours


of use during our slower lap swim times. Aloha Birthday parties were a joint venture with our Guest Service team to use our underutilized pool and the deck/outside spray garden. Throughout this process, we have seen amazing staff growth. Bright eyed staff always seeing the glass half full and looking for ways they can assist or offering feedback and suggestions. Full time staff created and updated COVID 19 protocols to allow for people to come in and use the facility in a safe manner. We conducted virtual trainings to help staff feel connected to each other and to keep up to date on the skills necessary for their jobs. Full time and part time staff were encouraged to cross train and work with other departments in the Community Center and within the Town. For example, lifeguards assisted our Active Adults staff serve their weekly lunches successfully via a drive up service and also participated in special events.

The moral of our story is that no matter what, we kept pushing forward with a single focus in mind: we will reopen again, and when we do, we will be better than before and ready to serve the public. As our facility was once again filled with laughter and fun,

our staff can reflect and be proud of what we accomplished. Is our story unique? Probably not, but we are able to look back with pride knowing we are capable of doing great things during unprecedented times.

Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 13


Adapting Spaces in Steamboat Springs By Alexis Wolf, Recreation Manager, Dmitry Chase, Howelsen Ice Complex Supervisor, and Nick Carelli, Adult Sports Supervisor, City of Steamboat Springs

We were five months into the COVID-19 pandemic when the Director of Parks & Recreation popped her head into my office. “I just spoke with the guys next door, and they were talking about miniature outdoor ice-skating rinks. Run with it.” She left just as quick, leaving me open mouthed and baffled. Four months later, on December 8th, 2020, two new, free to the public, outdoor Community Ice Rinks opened, and it never would have happened without COVID. This was an idea that had been tossed around by rink staff for years, and by itself isn’t anything revolutionary. Many towns have these outdoor rinks, in fact, many people have them in their back yards. New and different this year was having a specific mandate due to COVID for additional, low or no cost, outdoor recreation opportunities. The indoor Howelsen Ice Complex was closed in March of 2020 to become the Emergency Operation Center and was transformed into a medical facility – luckily never to be used in that way. The rink was reopened in August 2020 for limited practices and public access, and restrictions keep it operational but with very limited capacity, even now. We wanted to get ice available outside, and it took an extraordinary number 14 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021

of people with innovative ideas and a willingness to work collectively to make it happen. The primary hurdle at the beginning was to determine a funding source. How does one purchase, install, and maintain outdoor ice rinks without any money? Talk to your people. You know who they are. They are the ones who are there every day, the ones

who actually read the newsletter and may even respond, the ones who truly care about the services you provide. Friendly conversations over the summer continuously exposed those who were willing to invest in solutions, so when this concept gained traction, we already had a mental list of patrons who might be willing to donate, patrons who desperately wanted to skate. Through


simple outreach, a few follow up conversations, phone calls and emails, pledges were secured to cover the entire $19,000 cost of the project, thanks in large part to the positive relationship building that had been curated over years of interactions between the rink staff and the families who frequented it. One cannot underestimate the power of positive, long term relationships. Once the funding was in place, the truly creative thinking started to happen. We needed a secure location that was close to the existing rink. We needed a flat surface that could withstand the weight of 60,000 gallons of water, along with a winter water source. We needed a way keep the ice clear of the hundreds of inches of snow that fall every year and giving the local kids a few shovels wasn’t going to cut it. Each requirement led to several more, and it became quite overwhelming. Luckily, there are some very dedicated and creative minds working for Parks & Recreation, and they love a good challenge. Our outdoor tennis courts became the chosen location. These courts are conveniently placed in the heart of Howelsen Park, smack in the center of Steamboat Springs, and are one of the few amenities that sit empty and unused each winter, collecting snow and waiting for the spring to come. That location not only had the flat surface that was required, but it also had lights, fencing, and electricity already available. Parking was not an obstacle, and it allowed this new amenity to be created without impacting existing programs or facilities. It also alleviated apprehension from the Parks crew, concerned about negative impacts to the grass fields had we placed them there instead. The rink staff then worked closely with the maintenance department to create new machinery. While the rinks arrived with a manual “resurfacer”, it wasn’t going to be adequate for these purposes, and would require access to water that didn’t exist on site. There was no way that a Zamboni could get onto the surface of the ice, and adequate snow removal remained an obstacle. By using a large water tank in the bed of a Toolcat, adding a small, removable snowblower to the front, and

By using a large water tank in the bed of a Toolcat, adding a small, removable snowblower to the front, and attaching the resurfacer to the back, the “Delboni” was born – affectionately named after its creator.

attaching the resurfacer to the back, the “Delboni” was born – affectionately named after its creator. A few small ramps enable the Delboni to access the ice and allow plowing and resurfacing in a short amount of time. Shovels are always available for individuals to use as needed, of course. Ever since that cold December morning, the rinks have been available to the public, free of charge, both mornings and evenings. People of all ages can be found there daily, figure skating, playing hockey, and generally having a great time while getting some much-needed exercise and fresh air. Others like myself, who don’t consider themselves ice skaters, have rediscovered a sport from their childhood, and are having a fantastic time reconnecting with the past. The feedback that we get is overwhelmingly positive. The rinks have even been featured on Denver 9 News twice!

It wasn’t easy, and luck and hard work played significant roles. Snowmaking at the nearby ski area made it difficult to create the desired ice surface. The tennis courts weren’t as flat as we thought. Had the rinks been installed in a different direction, there would have been too much of an incline to hold the water. The list goes on. Staff are still learning every day, and will make plenty of changes for next year, but the knowledge gained and the lessons learned are invaluable moving forward. While there was plenty of hope, we never expected the level of success and usage that the outdoor rinks have shown. Just last week, our City Council ended their discussion asking, “How can we get more outdoor rinks next year?” and I look forward to working with our incredible team to accommodate them.

Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 15


Never Let an Opportunity Go to Waste HOW SERVICE AND PURPOSE CAN SHINE A LIGHT OF POSITIVITY THROUGH CHALLENGING TIMES By Charles Flinn, CPRP, Recreation Coordinator, Town of Erie Parks & Recreation

Service is a choice. Every single day of our lives are, from an abstract view, an unbroken series of choices. A specific choice that has always stuck with me is: “You can go through change or you can grow through change.” Here in Erie, we choose the latter. When I arrived in Erie at the end of 2019, I held an all-staff meeting with the Facility Operations department where I literally and figuratively now stood at the head of. I sent a poll the week before the meeting to get a pulse of the department and folks, the results could be categorized as “not great.” The results uncovered several issues in communication, training, onboarding, management, morale, and turnover. Oh, and this meeting occurred two weeks before the global pandemic broke into the United States. Initially, it was obvious that there were fundamental and structural issues that were both deep-rooted and would also require significant time, effort, and

commitment to repair…also known as: change. Change is hard and it creates natural senses of apprehension, anxiety, and loss. By initiating a change of this scale and magnitude, it would be fair to assume that an effort to address these would encounter natural human structures of hostility and defenses. To counter this, we leaned into a push/ pull style of change leadership. We would lead from the front, communicate a detailed plan, and pulled the group up the mountain while simultaneously meeting our staff where they were, walk that journey alongside them, and push when needed. And then COVID-19 happened. Times like these remind me of my favorite quotes: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, or encounter a global pandemic.” - Mike Tyson Fast forward a few weeks to a shuttered facility and a staff of 50 looking to their new boss for answers and leadership

through an event that none of us have ever experienced. The moment had arrived, unannounced and without welcome, and I was now faced with a choice: would I lead this team to go through this change, or would we grow through this change? As I huddled with my lead team, we were all in agreement that through these dark, challenging times of a pandemic an opportunity had presented itself. With such an alarming, common threat invading our lives, the staff would likely suspend their antagonisms and allow us to accelerate our massive plan that was beginning to take shape. By identifying a common enemy, we could create a natural comradery, lift the esprit de corps, and pour that energy into this project. An entire Facility Operations team that now did not have a facility

“You can go through change or you can grow through change.” Here in Erie, we choose the latter.

16 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021


Change is hard and it creates natural senses of apprehension, anxiety, and loss. to operate was still able to coalesce together and find purpose. Prior to my arrival, the department was known as Guest Service Operations, or GSO for short. Thus, I decided to name our 5-point project GS2.O. Based upon the results of the poll, we identified five key areas that needed our help: Organization & Structure, Staff Manuals, Onboard & Training, Job Descriptions, and Values & Culture. Now that we identified a destination, it was time to get to work. While initially daunting, this project gave us the unique opportunity to re-think the entirety of our operations. By identifying the foundation of the problems provided to us from the staff, we were able to build our five pillars on top of it. This gave us the allowance to look at our department from beginning to end and we started with the most basic – what do we call ourselves? Does our organization & structure align with our overall goals, values, and expectations? Do our job descriptions match our job expectations? How long should it take to go from new hire to fully on-boarded? What are the core values for our service delivery?

Operations side can be best understood visually as a hub of the Recreation wheel. Our programs, offerings, activities, sports, classes, etc. all represent different, unique spokes of the wheel. This forced us to re-think how we onboard & train our staff – less twodimensional, linear thought and more three-dimensional, universal thought. By the end of the project, we were able to present a dynamic, modern rollout of our entire department. • We are structurally organized in a thoughtful, constructive manner. • We are able to lay out a roadmap that takes our high level customer service philosophy of P.E.A.K. [Professional, Exceptional, Accountable, Knowledgeable] and apply it all the way down to a granular, daily expectation. Our staff manuals are now broken down by all four letters of PEAK for each position in the department.

• We now have a directly applicable onboard & training process for each new hire that matches the needs of the position broken down by each week of the process. • We now have a series of Job Descriptions that accurately reflect the duties and expectations while also fitting within the new organization of the department. • And finally, through effective communication, effortful striving, and servant leadership, we have a culture that sets the tone every day for the entire building. Sans pandemic, I believe that we would still achieve this; albeit on a different timeline and with greater resistance. However, I now know the incredible abilities of my team while also discovering their unwavering commitment to Erie Recreation. By finding a new purpose, we have been able to grow through a year of unending change. Whether it be our town or our team, we choose to serve.

Initially, we had laid out a step-by-step timeline to achieve our goals. However, we realized another pivot would be necessary as each individual point of the project interacts both individually and holistically with the other four points. As we stepped back, we recognized that we were looking at an interconnected web rather a linear projection to success. Within Facility Operations, nothing exists in an abstract manner. I have always thought that working on the

Colorado ColoradoByline Byline| |Winter Winter2021 2021• •17 17


Flexibility: Answering the Call to Tackle Whatever is Thrown at You By Casey Gray, Recreation Center Coordinator, Denver Parks & Recreation

As I prepared to start my new job in March of 2020, I received a call from my new boss. All recreation centers were closing and I should be prepared to be deployed to another city service department. Ten months, three redeployments, a two month furlough and a brand new baby girl later, I am still left wondering what a normal day at my recreation center looks like.

restore historic windows, build rustic furniture and receive my CDL permit. These are life skills I never dreamed of having and now I will carry with me for many years to come.

When I reflect back on the last ten months, gratitude is the best way to describe my pandemic experience. I am grateful for my health and that of my family, to have a job when so I was given the many people throughout opportunity to experience the world are much less recreation in a whole new fortunate, and so grateful light; from caring for the bison to have had the opportunity Madelyn Jean Gray herd and building circhouses to get to know a whole new (durable, transportable set of coworkers across many habitats) with the mountain parks departments and facets of the city. Lastly, division, to learning the art of tree work I am grateful for all of the people who with the forestry department. Somewhere worked tirelessly to ensure my coworkers in the middle I also learned how to and I had projects and tasks to keep us

employed. Over the coming months, we will be focused on transitioning back safely into the recreation centers and discovering what our new normal will look like, post pandemic. Talk about a lengthy onboarding!

When I reflect back on the last ten months, gratitude is the best way to describe my pandemic experience.

18 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021


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Artists: Jerry Jaramillo and Jay Jaramillo

Using Public Art as a Way to Connect Residents in Adams County In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Adams County Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts Department launched two public art projects to bring hope and joy to communities, inspire residents and visitors, and fuel the local economy. By Zoe Ocampo, Cultural Arts Liaison, Adams County Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts

Murals for Hope Murals for Hope is a series of exterior murals along the Clear Creek and South Platte River Trail systems in Adams County. Themes for each installation were inspired by the wildlife and beauty of the parks, trails, and open space properties throughout Adams County. They commissioned six local artists to install large murals along the trails from July through December 2020.

Mural artists included: Jay Jaramillo and Jerry Jaramillo, Clear Creek Trail, 64th Avenue Trailhead AJ Davis (Project Street Gold), Clear Creek Trail, Clear Creek / South Platte Confluence Johanna Gentry, South Platte River Trail, Clear Creek / South Platte Confluence Anthony Garcia (Birdseed Collective), South Platte River Trail, 120th Street Entrance, Riverdale Regional Park Michael Gadlin, South Platte River Trail, 124th Avenue Underpass, Riverdale Regional Park Artist: Johanna Gentry

20 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021


Artist: Anthony Garcia

Artist: MIchael Gadlin

Artists: Jay Jaramillo & Jerry Jaramillo

Artists: Jay Jaramillo & Jerry Jaramillo

Artist: MIchael Gadlin

Artist: AJ Davis Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 21


We specifically sought out artists with ties to Adams County, and everyone reacted the same way – they wanted to paint and focus on creating something beautiful where they live.

Artist: Faye Braaten (a.k.a. Chainsaw Mama)

Artist: Mark Mahorney

Artist: Bongo Love

Wood Carving Commissions In addition to Murals for Hope, we commissioned a series of ten wood carvings between 120th Avenue and Willow Bay along the South Platte River Trail in Riverdale Regional Park. Chainsaw artists included: Faye Braaten (a.k.a. Chainsaw Mama), Mark Mahorney, Bongo Love, and Matt Ounsworth. The wood carvings were also inspired by the natural beauty of Riverdale Regional Park. With subjects like great blue heron, eagles, owls, and flora and fauna. There might even be a sasquatch hiding somewhere along the trails! Artist: Faye Braaten (a.k.a. Chainsaw Mama)

Artist: Matt Ounsworth

Art with a Purpose Through these two projects we had several goals: to inject dollars directly into our local Adams County and Colorado economies to support working artists; to activate our trails and parks with live art installations; to inspire residents to get outside, be safe, socially distanced, and still part of their communities; and to bring hope and joy through color, beauty and stories.

22 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021

When we first reached out to the artists, we received overwhelming excitement about the project. It was during the quarantine when everyone was home, uncertain of what was to come. We specifically sought out artists with ties to Adams County, and everyone reacted the same way – they wanted to paint and focus on creating something beautiful where they live. Never before had people focused so much on home and it was an opportunity to do just that. Learn more at www.adcogov.org/arts-culture-current-projects


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Colorado ColoradoByline Byline| |Winter Winter2021 2021• •23 23


FITNESS TRansformED EAGLE POINTE RECREATION CENTER GETS A FACELIFT By Victoria Webster, Project Assistant, Essenza Architecture

Eagle Pointe Recreation Center is an 80,000 square foot facility located in Commerce City and offers a wide variety of health and fitness activities and programs. In December of 2018, the recreation center completed a major renovation and addition that focused on the adaptation of available spaces and transforming them into a facility that better met the programmatic needs of the community. The innovative expansion of the facility included a large multi-use group exercise room designed for maximum program flexibility, a dance studio with a parent’s viewing area, and a therapeutic focused natatorium geared towards the senior population and expanded aquatic programming. The exterior of the building addition integrated brick and metal siding to create a cohesive design with the existing brick

building while providing an updated modern touch. The remodeled and expanded fitness floor includes a free weight area, selectorized equipment space, and state-of-the-art cardio theater where fitness enthusiasts can watch movies while getting a great workout. The cardio theater concept is an homage to the last original drive-in movie theater of the area that is located in Commerce City. A yoga/cycling studio with bike storage was added along with a new functional training area allowing for maximum adaptability for the facility’s programs and activities. A new front entry canopy is designed to invite users into the facility and into a warm and welcoming lobby that was redesigned to provide a single point control

desk. In addition to being remodeled to improve ADA compliance, the facility is designed to be accessible, inclusive, and engaging to all members of the community. Some features of inclusivity include multiple lounge areas with seating and writing surfaces at varying heights,

Photos: Philip Wegener

24 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021


gender neutral restrooms, remodeled accessible locker rooms, and a zero-depth ramp entry with handrails to better accommodate all abilities in the therapy pool. Flexible lighting contributed to the adaptability of spaces for multiple uses. Innovative solutions for adapting and refreshing the facility were introduced through a cohesive interior design concept that, balanced the color palette with both warm and cool colors, smooth and textured surfaces, and playful light sources, creating a design that shines.

Sustainability and low maintenance items were top priorities. Energy efficiency building and pool systems, durable and low-maintenance materials, costeffective LED lighting, natural lighting through Solatubes are all elements we incorporated into the design. The project design exceeded the requirements of Xcel Energy’s Energy Design Assistance (EDA) program, creating an energy efficient facility that reduced overall operating costs. Creative design solutions were implemented to enhance entry points,

reception areas, and fitness spaces through careful space planning, consideration of adjacencies, and comfortable and open circulation. The architect of the remodel and addition, Essenza Architecture, embraced the challenges and opportunities of repurposing existing buildings by bringing them back to life, creating facilities that represent our communities, and providing places and spaces where people go to get fit and have fun!

Colorado Byline | Winter 2021 • 25


Breaking Barriers THE IMPORTANCE OF THOUGHTFUL INCLUSIVE PLAY By Leslie Amico, Sales and Marketing, Rocky Mountain Recreation, Inc.

Inclusive play is about creating spaces where all kids can explore in a variety of settings, addressing a variety of interests, senses and skills. As we have seen many children switch to remote learning in 2020, municipal playgrounds have become more essential for children to have access to outdoor play and social interaction. School closure have been particularly challenging for children with disabilities and therefore, their need for the development of physical, social and cognitive skills on a municipal playground has grown significantly over the past year. A need that has always existed, but now should be addressed so that access to playgrounds becomes available to all children, of all abilities. Municipal playgrounds have a wide range of options when it comes to offering inclusive play to their community, whether the project is a new park installation, a full remodel from an outdated playground or even a retrofit by adding 1-2 play elements. How do you identify what types of play are lacking? A playground consultant can provide play features that address specific developmental benefits and that reach a particular age group.

Trends in Inclusive Play New trends are being set when it comes to playground materials. Traditional wood, steel and plastic are now partnered with recycled plastic lumber, GFRC realistic rock climbers, fish net, polyester wrapped, steel-reinforced climbing cables, marble panels, belt and net climbers provide a wide range of materials and textures. Playgrounds should be full of sensory stimulation, especially the two internal senses – Vestibular and Proprioceptive.

26 • Colorado Byline | Winter 2021

Vestibular stimulation is the sense of movement and balance. Swinging, spinning, swaying and sliding are common examples of vestibular activities. We get proprioception stimuli from sensory receptors in the muscles and joints. Climbing, overhead events, slowing oneself on a slide, increasing speed on a swing are all examples of proprioceptive use. A good way to assess your existing or proposed play space for inclusivity would be to examine the play features and how they each provide sensory stimulation. Roller slides that allow for wheel-chair access are excellent ways to incorporate inclusive play. Play structures such as net climbers and towers should offer various points of access, allowing children with mobility devices to enter and exit the climber. Another growing trend is an ADA wheelchair path navigating a playground with accessible play features throughout. Children on the autism spectrum often want increased vestibular stimulation and love swinging. Swinging can be broken out into two types: to-fro swing and that of a rotating swing. Both are unique and inclusive play would ideally include both types to offer maximum vestibular stimulation. The tire swing is also a place where social skills and the vestibular sense come together. Many children on the autism spectrum need help with social skills. Tire swings are a very non-threatening way to practice. In addition to the back-and-forth movement the swings provide, you

also want to provide an opportunity for children to use their vestibular system in going around and around. The inclusion of specific spinner that allow wheelchair access, with platform size large enough for multiple children are excellent examples of spinners that are designed for inclusion. Integrated cable net climbers offer a wonderful experience both alone or with other children. The tension in the cable produces an action-reaction bouncing sensation like no other. Parents and caregivers of children with sensory processing disorders say their children love these on the playground. The design of the play environment is equally as important as offering sensory play experiences. They need to be designed in such a way as to make the space welcoming and not threatening, engaging, interesting, and challenging at the appropriate level. This is a very important element, but often overlooked. Finding a playground installer that has the knowledge and expertise to create a uniquely inclusive Sensory Playground Design specific to your situation, site and budget will ensure overall project success.


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