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Chautauqua Park Playground Renovation

Project Background

Chautauqua Park, located at the base of the iconic flatirons of Boulder, is one of only 25 National Historic Landmarks in the state of Colorado. While Chautauqua Park is best known for its arts, culture and educational programs, the community’s recreational activities are also popular, as they were historically. The City of Boulder developed the area northeast of the dining hall as a playground in 1913. During the mid-1980s the current tennis court was added to the eastern edge of the playground.

Chautauqua Playground Renovation Map

In 2019, the Parks and Recreation Department allocated Capital Improvement funds to renovate the playground at Chautauqua Park. The playground equipment has exceeded its life expectancy. ADA accessibility and playground equipment safety regulations are examples of new guidelines that must be followed in the renovation process. Staff recognizes the historic designation of the site and will align the project approach accordingly.

August Update

Thank you to all of the community members who were able to join staff at the Aug 29, 2019 public meeting. For those unable to attend, the information boards from the meeting are available below with a comment box at the end to submit your comments for consideration along with feedback from the meeting.  Please leave your comments by September 12, 2019 to be considered in the initial project feedback.

Board 1  provides a summarized history and photos depicting the evolution of the playground area from 1898 to the present.

Board 2  provides the project statement, guiding principles and the updated timeline with a breakdown of the 4 phases. This is an updated timeline from the July update.

Board 3-5 are a sample of photos reviewed to align the feel of the playground renovation with existing site characteristics and to inspire creative ideas.

Board 6  shows the land survey with existing grading and limitations for the renovation. The large water main (with a 10’ buffer on each side) and the notable American Elm (including the drip line to protect the root system) are the 2 more prominent site features that pose limitation to the existing playground footprint. Also noted are the current Colorado Chautauqua Association (CCA) leasehold area and CCA’s potential Preservation Lab/Maintenance Facility.

More information about CCA’s potential Preservation Lab/Maintenance Facility can be found at The role of Parks and Recreation at this point is to consider the possible facility location and design the playground renovation in a way that will not inhibit the possible future of this facility. Questions about the facility will be directed to CCA.

Board 7-8 are the two concept plan alternatives developed to spark discussion and ideas from the community. No decisions have been made, but staff is asking for community feedback to inform future decision-making. Please use the feedback box to submit your thoughts. (Just a note that Nextdoor is a great place to talk to your neighbors online but staff does not have access to those comments. Please make sure your comments are submitted on this page or provided directly to the project manager for consideration in the decision-making process.)

In both plans:

  • The playhouse would be restored and improved
  • The natural area to the north of the park would utilize the current social paths for nature play style components with creative pathways to explore and discover enchanting nodes
  • The American Elm will be protected in the design and throughout construction
  • The parking lot and driveway will remain part of the CCA leasehold
  • There is consideration of a foot path next to the driveway for increased pedestrian safety

Alternate A utilizes a similar footprint as the existing playground with the majority of play features for the 2-5 yr. old age range. Younger aged ranged play features require a smaller footprint and fall-zone.

Staff included some 5-12 yr. old age range features such as a climbing rock and mini zip line.

The tennis court would remain with consideration of converting it to a multi-sport court that could be used for 1 tennis court (youth and adult), basketball and up to 2 pickleball courts.

Alternate B includes many of the same features for 2-5 yr. olds as Alternative A, however, this plan reduces the size of the current tennis court making it a tennis practice area with a backboard, half-court basketball and 1 pickleball court.

The reduced court area would provide space for a universal access play feature to accommodate more 5-12 yr. old play features and create a high level of inclusive play opportunities for all abilities.

A children’s bike skills course would fit the natural topography while accommodating play for a wide age range.

A rope bridge from the playground area to the top of the hill slide.

Comment period closed on Sept. 12, 2019 to allow staff to digest and summarize.

Comments regarding CCA' s Potential Preservation Lab/Maintenance Facility will be forwarded to CCA. Comments regarding the Sustainability and Resiliency Strategy will be shared with CCA and the historic preservation program staff. Links will be posted when more information is available about either of these additional items presented at the meeting.

Please use the e-mail sign-up box at the bottom of the page to receive future meeting notifications and e-mail updates.

July Update

Project Process and Approach

  1. Research and Scope Development (June – July 2019).   This phase is focused on gathering background information, assessing existing conditions, and developing the goals and objectives for the project.
  2. Alternative Concept Development (July- August 2019). In this phase, the background information and goals and objectives will shape the draft alternatives for the concept plans. A draft of historic context that provides information on playground area precedent and historic use in that part of the park will be developed. Staff will be seeking input from staff, boards, stakeholders and the community on the alternatives.
  3. Preferred Concept Plan Review (August – September 2019). This phase is focused on developing a preferred hybrid concept plan considering community feedback in addition to existing limitations and regulations required for development.
  4. Bidding and Construction (October 2019 – Spring 2020). This phase is focused on implementation of the preferred concept plan through review of a Landmark Alteration Certificate, permitting, bidding and construction.

Staff is in the early phase of research and scope development for this playground renovation process. Research underway includes but is not limited to:

  • Tree Inventory Assessment
  • Playground Feature Condition and Needs Assessment
  • Tennis Court Condition and Needs Assessment
  • Operational Efficiency Evaluation
  • Historic Documentation Research
  • Communication/Coordination Plan Development with Stakeholders and Community
  • Land Survey
  • Regulatory and Best Practice Priorities

Next Steps

Meeting information was posted on the web page on August 30. Comments from the community will be accepted through September 12. Staff will combine all feedback collected up to that point to digest and summarize. The project progress and summarized community feedback will be shared with PRAB at their regular monthly meeting on Sept. 23. PRAB meetings are always open to the public.

Based upon the culmination of technical information and community feedback, staff will develop a preferred concept plan to share with the community at a 2 nd public meeting anticipated in October.

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