Kirkwood Playground - Frequently Asked Questions

 
In December, the Playground Committee, a small group of residents from Kirkwood, working with Kirkwood Meadows Public Utility District (KMPUD), conducted a survey regarding the uses and future needs for a youth playground in Kirkwood. The survey generated a number of questions that we address in this document.
 
The Kirkwood Community Playground is an important destination for families with young children when they visit Kirkwood during the non-snow months.  The equipment was installed in 1995 and 25 years later, it has reached its end of life and needs to be replaced. During this past summer, a certified inspection of the playground was completed.  Multiple deficiencies were identified; some of which were remedied by District staff.  Safety issues remain primarily with the play structure, but not with the swings, diggers and other structures.
 
The current play structure cannot support the weight of Kirkwood’s winter snow. Staff from KMPUD sets up the playground equipment each year as soon as the snow melts, dismantles the playground in the fall, and stores the equipment during the winter.  Your property taxes cover the costs of maintaining the playground which runs between $22,000 - $28,000 annually. Property taxes are not available to cover the costs of a replacement playground as they are allocated to other government and utility services. (See question 2 below for more details).
 
KMPUD is exploring funding options for the replacement equipment purchase, including several grant opportunities, as they become available, and fundraising activities across the community of Kirkwood and in the surrounding area.
 
1.  Are you considering improvements to the tennis courts and/or other recreational activities? No. The urgent need is to replace the playground structure. This effort is being spearheaded by KMPUD and its volunteers and KMPUD only has responsibility for the playground. See questions 7 and 12 below.


2. How is the playground funded? KMPUD receives approximately 20% of the total property taxes collected from Kirkwood property owners in the three counties - Alpine, Amador and El Dorado. (Note a complete inventory of all uses of property taxes by KMPUD can be found in the annual report[1] and in the audited financials[2]). KMPUD allocates $22,000 - $28,000 per year which only covers the maintenance costs and general and administrative support. There are no funds available for replacing the playground structure. For a detailed explanation of the allocation of property taxes, please see page 60 of the July Board packet[3] which includes the approved 2019-2020 budget.
 
3.  Are there other County sources of funding such as the TOT tax from Alpine County? Yes, in addition to property taxes, KMPUD receives a small portion of TOT collected in Kirkwood.  See question 2 for more detail. The counties do not provide any other sources of funds available to KMPUD that could be used for the playground. We have discussed the project with our county supervisors, but you are welcome to contact them as well:
Terry Woodrow, Supervisor Alpine District 4, 530-721-6008, twoodrow@alpinecountyca.gov
Jeff Brown, Supervisor Amador District 3, 209-223-6493, jeffbrown@amadorgov.org
 
4.  Can KMPUD apply for grants? Yes. KMPUD has identified several sources for grants including one offered by Vail and also through state agencies. The Vail “Epic Promise” grant application was submitted in December.


5.  Do we require ADA compliance?  As a public agency serving the entire public, KMPUD knows it is essential to serve the entire present and future community. ADA improvements will be included in the overall phased approach to upgrading the playground.


6.  Who owns the land? The current playground is on property owned by Vail Resorts and leased to KMPUD at a nominal cost. KMPUD would not invest in the playground in the current location without a long term lease that would cover the expected life of the equipment purchased and KMPUD is in discussions with Vail to improve the lease agreement.
 
7.  Why not incorporate tennis court improvements?  KMPUD is not responsible for the tennis courts. That land is owned by Vail and leased to KCA.  KCA's agent - Kirkwood Property Services manages the tennis and basketball courts.  If you have any ideas or questions regarding the tennis courts, we encourage you to communicate[4] with the KCA.
 
8. Can a portion of the meadow be used for the playground, for example a miniature golf course? No. The Meadow is protected under a conservation easement with North American Land Trust. No development or improvements are allowed.
 
9. Why is the Climbing Wall closed? KMPUD is not responsible for the climbing wall. That land is owned by a developer and leased to Vail. If you have any ideas or questions regarding the climbing wall, we encourage you to communicate with Vail.


10.  How is the KCA Recreation Center funded and what is its relationship to KMPUD and the playground? KMPUD is not responsible for the Recreation Center. The KCA is funded by member dues as defined in some Kirkwood property deeds.  If you have any ideas or questions regarding the Recreation Center, we encourage you to communicate with KCA.  Since there is no relationship between the two, not fixing the playground does not mean more amenities added at the Recreation Center.
 
11.  Can we include ziplines? No. Ziplines would have an additional operational cost and significant legal liability that is beyond the scope that KMPUD could consider with its insurer.


12.  How can we improve the tennis and basketball courts? KMPUD is not responsible for the tennis courts and basketball courts. They are managed by KCA and if you have any questions, we encourage communicate with KCA.


13.  How do you prevent impacts to the stream? KMPUD employs best management practices to avoid any material from the playground entering the stream.
 
14.  Why is the playground removed and reinstalled every season? During winter, the playground is used for snow storage. Snow from the parking lot and street is blown or pushed into the general area of the playground.


15.  What age groups will be served by the new playground? We plan on supporting a broad set of age groups from toddler to ages 10-12.
 
16. Do all the playground facilities need to be replaced? Not immediately nor as part of this project. The play structure is the main item that needs attention. The climbing wall, swings and diggers can continue to be used so long as they remain in good, safe condition.
 
[1] https://www.kmpud.com/wp-content/uploads/Annual-Report-2018-2019-FINAL-111919-2.pdf
[2] https://www.kmpud.com/wp-content/uploads/Kirkwood-Meadows-PUD-2019-Audit-Issued.pdf
[3] https://www.kmpud.com/wp-content/uploads/Special-Board-PACKET-07.05.2019-WEB.pdf
[4] www.thekca.org/contact-us/