The Power of Leveraging Generosity – The Naturita Park Success Story
It all began when local attorney and mother, Sara Bachman, watching kids play in a dilapidated Naturita playground, resolved “…we can do better!” On behalf of the Town, she applied for a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Parks and Recreation Master Plan Grant in 2018. That grant was awarded and it allowed the Town to hire Durango-based DHM Design to create a master plan for an outdoor recreation park that would prove to be a community asset for years to come. Having won a $10,000 SMPA/CoBank Sharing Success Grant in 2018, the Town built a strong case for anther GOCO construction grant of $350,000 which they won in 2019.
“…and then the leveraging began!” stated Bachman. The town gathered other in-kind donations for various elements like decorative safety boulders, and dirt from an abandoned BMX track. As the project gathered steam, The Telluride Foundation kicked in $50,000 to match Town funds. Additionally, the project managers applied for, and won, a grant to reduce the cost of playground equipment by $92,000.
On behalf of the town, Bachman also applied to receive adventure course playground equipment through a KaBOOM!, Community-Built Playspace Grant. That grant was awarded, and the equipment was installed by community volunteers in October of 2021. Then the project grew to include the nearby San Miguel River with monies from the National Park Service Land Water Conservation fund and Colorado Water Conservation Board.
As impressive as this tale is, it is grounded by the original idea of young people and community-members just wanting a safe place to play outside. “One of the best memories of this whole process was involving the grade school children to help design their playground,” said Bachman. “They basically got to choose which play features they wanted.”
Including all the in-kind donations, the total construction costs for the Naturita Town Park Improvements and Perimeter Trail came to $919,162. Upon reporting this extraordinary feat, a smile floats across Bachman’s face.
“That’s about it for ‘Phase 1,” she says.