Something New in Our “Neighborhood Park”
It was over a year ago that we reported on a project sponsored by the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association to add a walking track to our neighborhood park… well, it’s the nearest thing we have to a park: the campus of Green Gables Elementary School. We received a Community Participation grant from the City, and as soon as it was approved the price of building materials skyrocketed. The project seemed doomed before it could even get started.
It was a generous grant from the City, in the amount of $60,000, and a full closed-loop walking track was planned. Lots of residents use our little school campus as a park anyway, but adding a path for walking, and a few places to rest in the shade, was something that was needed. These are things you should expect to find in a park. The path would replace a decrepit old one, reduced by time to a crumbling shadow of itself where it could be seen at all. It was completely subsumed by grass and weeds in places. After award of the grant, with changes in the construction industry arising from market forces and supply disruptions, the price of asphalt took an unprecedented upward turn and the cost was suddenly projected to be almost twice the $60,000 budget. The project seemed doomed to die. Doug Whitten, former President of the Association, is not one to say, “Oh well…” and give up. Because of his persistence, some creative thinking, and a great deal of cooperation from some key Lakewood and Jefferson County personnel, the project found new life. It’s happening! Construction started last week.
Amber Thrill, of the Lakewood Public Works Department, deserves a big share of the credit. She is in charge of a lot of budget elements, mostly much larger than our relatively small track project. What she learned from Doug, however, was how important this planned park-like feature would be to our community. She found a way to add funds, not the full amount for the original project with its current price tag, but an additional $33,000 to cover a reduced-scope path. Brian Korb of the Jeffco School District facilities department was a key figure in working out the compromises needed to fit the available funds, and became a vital supporter of the project. This was important because under the terms of the grant, the School District is the general contractor. Brian was the one who had to figure out how to define the project to fit the available funds from the original grant and the supplement provided by Lakewood Public Works.
As we wrote with the announcement of the project last year, it was to be a full closed loop track. The paved surface was to be 8 ft. wide, asphalt poured to a depth of 6 inches. What was able to be attained is about 3/4 of a full loop, 6 ft. wide, and 4″ poured over a stabilizing roadbase. First the path is dug out in a shallow trench to a depth of about 8 to 10 inches, following the contour of the terrain. Then the roadbase is poured, leveled, and compacted.
The material for the roadbase, according to Engineered Paving co-founder Gary Beutler, is made of recycled concrete with gravel. The concrete is crushed by giant machines, and is ground down so fine that when it is compacted and wet down, it partially hardens again, providing a very stable base. Then the asphalt is packed down over it and compacted, edges trimmed, and the grass near the path that has been disturbed will be reseeded. I asked how long the work will take, and learned the answer depends on the weather. For the asphalt, the temperature has to be 40 degrees and rising… and that condition has to be forecast and determined by the asphalt supplier with time enough for them to process and load the material.
The walking track is for everyone
The track will be open for residents to use before and after school hours, and it is meant for everyone to use during those times. Please respect and cooperate with everyone who uses this area. A lot of respect and cooperation has already gone into it. The origin and formation of this project has been a community effort all along. Residents signed petitions, school children and school staff members wrote letters of support for what was needed, the PTA and others donated money for the work, and the school staff along with Lakewood and Jefferson County steff workers and leaders completed analysis and negotiations to bring it into being. And still…
You can help: there is plenty of room for participation
The seats, benches and tables, signs, and provisions for shade or shelter will have to be paid for by fundraising. Even with the construction costs covered, there is plenty of room for us to participate in bringing this project to completion.
The Green Gables PTA has made an initial pledge, and other sources will be sought. The project falls under IRS Section 501(c)(3) guidelines so contributions are tax deductible. The school has set up a page for donations, with the project name #1 Outdoor Space Improvement Project.
To make a donation, CLICK HERE.