GOCO: Playground Closure Doesn't Break Grant Rules, But Should Include Public Process

Sep 13, 2017

The decision by the Dolores Town Board to close a popular playground in Joe Rowell Park has raised questions about the town’s obligation to maintain the state-funded site. The Ron Kotarski Memorial Playground was built in 2001, utilizing a $100,000 grant from the Great Outdoors Colorado program and considerable volunteer labor. On Monday, the town board voted to close the playground for safety reasons, saying some of its wooden components are splintering and rotting. GOCO local government program manager Jake Houston tells KSJD there is no hard and fast rule about how long a project must last. Initially GOCO required that projects remain intact for at least 25 years. But over time, the agency decided that was not realistic for all projects. Houston says GOCO now has an evaluation process an entity must go through to remove a project. He says he has spoken with a representative from Dolores and understands the town’s concerns about liability. He also heard from a citizen upset about losing the playground, and says GOCO is pleased that residents still care about it. The site, now fenced off, will be further discussed at the board’s workshop September 25th, and a group called Save Our Playground is meeting September 28th. Houston says GOCO wants the public process to play out and says the door is open for the town to apply for new funding to replace the aging structure.