The $2.5 million project, which began construction in December 2017 and was done in collaboration with Greeley’s Culture, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works departments, was done to not only give Woodbriar a badly needed facelift but also to address infrastructure issues in the Rolling Hills neighborhood. Residents living near Woodbriar Park typically can gauge the severity of a storm by how much flooding there is in their basements.
Hopefully neighborhood flooding will be all but eliminated in the future thanks to Woodbriar’s new 1.6 million gallon stormwater detention area, said Sarah Boyd, Greeley park planner, during Saturday’s celebration. The detention area also doubles as a soccer or football field when it’s not raining.
“When you’re talking about stormwater issues, it’s possible this could have been a pretty boring project,” said Greeley City Councilman and Rolling Hills neighborhood resident Jon Smail. “I’m proud of the collaboration between the stormwater and parks departments. It’s clear this is going to be the gem of this neighborhood.”
As important as stormwater detention is to the Rolling Hills neighborhood, what makes Woodbriar a gem among Greeley’s parks is its innovative play areas. In renovating the park, city employees were forced to down about 20 trees. Though they planted 50 new ones, the old trees were incorporated into the new playground features.
Children used real logs to build dams in the interactive sandbox and cooled off in the water that jetted from an old fashioned-style water pump. They climbed stumps and logs to get to the top of the slides, climbing walls and to play on the swings.
“This is the first installation of a nature playground in Greeley,” Boyd said. “It’s one-of-a-kind and totally unique to this site. You won’t find another one like it anywhere else in the U.S.”
In addition to educating neighborhood residents about the park’s new features, which also include looped walking trails, a sand volleyball court, a new shelter facility, restoration of Cottonwood Creek and the incorporation of water-saving native plants and grasses, park attendees also were treated to the dedication of a new art plaza. The plaza, created by Tempe, Ariz., artist Laurie Lundquist, celebrates Greeley’s history as a responsible water manager in the arid west.
Ed Rogers, chairman of the Greeley Art Commission, said the plaza is the first example of environmental art in the city.
“Usually for us, we take a piece of art, place it on a pedestal and display it somewhere in the city,” Rogers said. “This one is actually woven into the fabric of the park.
“We’ll continue to use this process in the future. It just makes sense to use the environment as your canvas.”