City Matters by Dave Felice
Although some neighborhood representatives are concerned about the lack of public involvement, Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) has planned monthly meetings through June for further public comment on the proposed “super playground” in City Park.
Over the course of the next several months, DPR and the design team will hold additional meetings to discuss and collect feedback on numerous topics, including health and fitness, incorporating public art, parking and circulation for City Park, building materials and sustainability.
The design team will take all of the feedback collected through each meeting and spend the summer fine-tuning their idea. In September, the team will present their final concept to the community.
Members of the Inter-Neighborhood Parks and Recreation Committee question the lack of direct neighborhood and public involvement when the project was first conceived. There is concern that neighborhoods were not consulted to determine the community’s desire for such a development. Some strong critics question if this is strictly a business project, not a park enhancement.
In late 2012, DPR selected a team for the agency’s bid on a new design and concept for a playground. The team, selected by a review panel in October, proposed the “City Loop” concept, which also was the popular choice among citizens and park users who provided feedback to DPR and to the selection committee.
The design team of Port Architecture + Urbanism/Indie Architecture was on hand March 20 for the first of many planned public meetings and workshops designed to collect feedback and encourage public participation as the project moves from concept to reality.
Some objection to the playground concept involves the impact of the development on the park and surrounding areas. One resident of City Park West wrote to Assistant Parks Manager Scott Gilmore, saying: “We know that, once given up to development or some other use, parks can never be recreated. It is my hope that Denver does not lose the great American legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted, Theodore Roosevelt, and our own Robert Speer through thoughtless dispensation of irreplaceable park land for short-term expediency.”
Safety and parking are also big concerns, especially for residents of South City Park. City Park neighbors are asking for more safe pedestrian crossings along 17th Avenue, at Colfax, York, and 23rd Avenue. Pedestrians routinely cross 17th in mid-block going to the park, and a pedestrian was recently struck and killed while crossing at Garfield.
There will be additional questions about parking. South City Park already has limited capacity to handle additional cars and the parking lots are on the opposite side of City Park. In addition, those lots are usually filled during the day. A new 192-unit apartment building in South City Park will add a greater demand for parking. There are no immediate plans for additional parking to serve the playground area.
The proposed area for the new playground at City Park is located in the general vicinity of the existing Dustin Redd playground, which is nearly 20 years old.
For more information on the City Park playground redesign, visit denvergov.org/reimagineplay. The next stakeholder meeting is scheduled on Friday, April 19 at City Park Pavilion from 7:30 – 9 a.m. RSVP to email@example.com.