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The playground is opened as the ribbon is cut by Parks and Recreation Manager Shaun Barnard and Mayor Nathan Clay. Onlookers from left to right are State Rep. Matt Soper, Councilman Kevin Carlson and Councilwoman Cathy Boyd.

The City of Delta’s parks department celebrated the long-awaited conclusion to the installation of Cleland Park’s new playground equipment on Saturday. It did this with a community ribbon cutting of the new gear, a kickball tournament, snow cones, balloon animals and an all-around celebration for the city.

This playground replacement has been in the works for nearly two years at least, with the city initially pursuing a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant in early August 2019. At that time, the previous playground, built in 1992, had fallen into disrepair and been deemed unsafe for children to play on it.

A chain link fence surrounded it until it could be taken down.

The city did ultimately get grant funding for the playground, and a stipulation by GOCO, to which the city agreed, was that there had to be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) features. The new playground fulfills those requirements, with a bouncing back and forth structure called an Alta Glider that is accessible via a ramp off the main playground structure. There is also a space on the feature for a parked wheelchair, while other spaces have bench seating.

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Mayor Nathan Clay (right) and Councilman Kevin Carlson (left) check out the new Alta Glider to make sure it's kosher for the kids.

Ramps also lead into the lower level of the main structure and in addition to a traditional rope grip zip-line, there is a zip-line with a chair. There are also ADA-compliant swings among the regular brand on the swing set.

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Sensory Central: the kids make a small racket.

The new playground also includes numerous sensory items like drums and bells, and educational components.

The new playground was designed by Miracle Playground under Churchich Recreation and done under a budget of $337,399.75.

Of great value besides the equipment itself, Cleland Park’s security measures have also been ramped up significantly.

New surveillance cameras watch over all areas of the park, obviously including the new playground, allowing law enforcement to remotely monitor against wrong-doers. Officers patrolling in the vicinity at any given time can have a near-immediate response time to Cleland Park.

In fact, according to Mayor Nathan Clay, one wrong-doer who had attempted to mess with the nearly finished park equipment was already apprehended after the cameras were installed.

Newer technology is the benefit in this surveillance system, as video footage is not the low quality, grainy imagery that used to come out of such cameras. The cameras are high definition and remotely accessible. Footage is streamed from the cameras, not stored in them. It can be accessed at a moment’s notice through a mobile app, which certain city staff had with them at the grand opening ceremony Saturday.

The surveillance system was installed by Adam Suppes, Delta municipal light and power supervisor.

Clay spoke at the grand opening, giving thanks to a handful of parties, including Parks and Recreation Manager Shaun Barnard, Suppes, the Delta Police Department and City Manager Elyse Casselberry. He also gave thanks to previous staff and officials who got the ball rolling on the project nearly two years ago, including David Torgler, the city’s previous city manager, and Tony Bohling, the previous parks and recreation manager.

Bohling was present at the grand opening and said some things himself.

He recalled that designs and colors of the new playground went out for a vote on social media, where they received hundreds of votes from members of the community. The special services department, led by Sandy Jungers, of the school district stepped in to do its part by helping in the designs for the ADA youth.

“This whole thing has been a community effort from the beginning and I’m very proud of this community,” Bohling said. “Nathan [Clay] and I were talking before and this is what this community needs to move forward is this kind of effort. It’s not just people in the city government who do these things. It’s pushed by people in the community, and we can have great things like this for the future of our kids if everybody just works together.”

Also attending was State Rep. Matt Soper, another Delta born and raised kid, along with Clay. He recalled the story of Dr. Winfield Scott Cleland, a local practitioner who noticed that many kids of the community were getting infected in weird places, or worse, drowning in ditches and canals. He figured the community needed a safe place to play.

He began pushing the idea in 1920, but it was the Delta Women’s Club that raised the money and purchased the land. It was donated to the City of Delta in 1924. Cleland was appointed the first architect of the park.

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The old playground at Cleland Park had fallen into a state of disuse, hence the chainlink fence that surrounded it near the end.

It has been home to a number of playgrounds by now, as well as a pool and a zoo throughout the decades.

The newest playground, which outsizes the last by at least three times, is open to the public. The old dilapidated tennis courts have been removed and transformed into extra parking.

And the next chapter begins.

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