Bike Fort Collins formally wrapped up its Active Living Grant program in April 2020, a multi-year grant program underwritten by Kaiser Permanente engaging the north Fort Collins community–specifically the Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park (PVMHP), where we reported on how we were able to move the needle on active living within the community. However, we also reported in March 2020 about receiving a culminating Nature in the City (NIC) grant through the City of Fort Collins to refresh the mobile home community’s park area. By the time we received all appropriate approvals for the landscape design in summer 2020, it was too late in the season to plant all trees and shrubs that were planned. Thus, we waited out the fall/winter of 2020-2021 and resumed/completed the plan this past summer.

“It’s always super packed. They love to play soccer and they do that almost every day. There are more kids out there playing now.

–David Saucedo, Resident, Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park

The execution of the park refresh project ended up being everything we hoped it would be. When we began, the park and playground area at PVMHP was only grass and an empty dirt area where the previous playground had been (prior to its removal before the new playground was installed). The only time we had ever seen children in the park area, they were playing on their phones sitting in the dirt underneath the shade area. Now the playground and park has become a gathering place and area where neighbors can connect, play, be active, and spend time in nature.

The space has truly been transformed. There are already so many more people using the park, and there are places truly made for the children and adolescents. It has changed from a place where the families and kids had to go because they had no other options, to a place where they want to go. We can’t wait to see the plants grow. The explosion of growth from the flowers this summer has brought a new feeling to the space. We feel that by making the space healthier we are making the community and environment healthier.

Before the park refresh, the closest connection PVMHP residents had with nature was either Greenbriar Park and Redwing Marsh Natural Area (1.1 miles away) or SoftGold Park (1.3 miles away). However both of these green areas required travelling across or along the busy Highway-287 corridor. Many children could not go to these parks without having a parent or adult with them due to the required crossings to get there. Therefore, the neighborhood resident coalition was focused on making the park and playground within Poudre Valley a place for connectivity with nature. Thanks to NIC’s grant and their hard work, this generation of children can connect with nature at home for the first time. As the plants grow and establish themselves we also hope to see an increase in wildlife presence. There have already been more pollinators over the summer since planting. This site has the potential to connect with wildlife from the Red Wing marsh area and the agricultural fields north and west of town.

“I like it because it keeps the kids out of trouble because they’re always there playing. So, I think it’s a good thing.

–Judy Santos, Resident, Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park

We learned a lot over the course of this project, as none of us anticipated the impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have. In fact, COVID-19 first arrived in Fort Collins right after the community had installed a brand, new playground. For the children to help install the new structure but not be able to play the next week due to social distancing was hard. However, the group persisted and we all came together (park management, residents, Bike Fort Collins team members, and city employees) to finish planting this past summer.

Maintenance of the new improvements seemed intimidating at first, however, with careful planning, the park management settled into a program and the maintenance process has gotten easier. The participation from residents with installing all the plants, paths, breeze and mulch, went a long way toward establishing a sense of ownership and taking care of the park and playground.

“The project brought the community together and gave me the opportunity to get more personal with our residents. It was fun to work on it as a community. I know the residents really enjoy it. It’s obvious. They’ve definitely been enjoying it. Stuff like that I find priceless really.  ….the residents scheduled a movie night in the park with many local organizations coming in. There will be food and a movie screen from the city. Folks are really using that space now.”

–Mike Kreitlow, Resident Manager, Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park