Late Spring Re-opening Expected
By Beth Dodd
Woodland Park’s Memorial Park, home to popular events like the town’s Fourth of July Celebration and the Cruise Above The Clouds Car Show, is a mess of construction equipment, bare earth, and half finished structures right now, but the redevelopment of the park will be complete by May or June if the weather allows.
“I know it looks really ugly right now, but it’s going to be pretty when it’s done,” said Woodland Park Parks & Recreation Director Cindy Keating. “People will really enjoy this park as individuals and in groups.”
New facilities in the park will include a 40’ x 40’ group picnic shelter, four small picnic shelters, a 32’ event shelter on the shore of the pond, and two permanent heated restrooms with flushing toilets. There will also be electricity for special events, a new playground, a new basketball court, lighted walkways for evening use, a lighted flag pole, and more. City officials hope the redeveloped park will attract new users and will accommodate more people for recreation and community activities. For example, the community event shelter will be a good place to hold weddings or outdoor yoga classes with a view of the peak.
The rebuild of the park is being paid for with a combination of local and state money. A $350,000 grant was awarded to Woodland Park by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) in June 2015. The city also received a $40,000 Fishing Is Fun Grant from the Division of Parks and Wildlife. The rest of the cost is being paid by the city. Altogether the total price tag for the project is just under $2,965,000.
There are still opportunities for donors to help fund the park by paying for specific site amenities. Donors get naming rights. For example, if you pay for a bench or a tree, you can have a plaque placed on it to acknowledge your gift or to remember someone special. Details are available on the city’s website at www.city-woodlandpark.org, or you can contact the Parks and Recreation Department.
The build-up to the reconstruction of the park began in 2013 when multiple public outreach meetings were held to gather community input. People met at the senior center, design concepts were presented at the high school, and questionnaires were passed out at a booth on the Fourth of July. All of the information was incorporated into the final Master Plan for the Redevelopment of Memorial Park which was completed in 2014.
The 3.3 acre park is the oldest one in town, serving as a gathering spot since 1938. The last time any major improvements were made to it was back in 1984. Practically everyone who has grown up in Woodland Park played there as a child and has brought their own children to play there. Some of the residents’ favorite features of the park include the view of Pikes Peak, the tall trees, and the pond.
Although many people have fond memories of the park, the facilities were aging and badly in need of improvements. For example, the pond had silted in and had become too shallow to support many fish. When the reconstruction of the pond is complete, it will be 12 feet deep. There will be a new beach and a fishing dock. It will be a good fishing spot again.
Other upgrades that people will appreciate include paved walkways around the pond and throughout the park. The park will be much more accessible. The paths will be lit with low profile bollards to make it safe to enjoy the park in the evenings. Twenty new trees, new shrubs, and irrigated lawns will replace the few trees that had to be removed.
Park access is being improved in several other ways besides the paved paths. Twenty-four new parking spaces are being added along Henrietta and Center Streets. A new sidewalk will be installed on the east side of the park along Park Street, and there will be a paved access trail into the northwest corner of the park from Lake Ave.
The renewed park will include more open space. The ground has been re-contoured so that the whole site is mostly level with a slight slope from north to south. It will be a better place for the special events that are popular there. For example, the area where the old tennis courts one stood will now be usable space.
Although the park is expected to be finished sometime late this spring, it may be another year before the park is ready for big crowds. The new sod in the lawns will need time to take root before it will be ready for thousands of people to walk on it without killing it.
“We look forward to having community events back. We want to open the park as soon as possible, but we also need to preserve the city’s investment,” said Keating.
Also in a holding pattern is the kids’ splash pad, a water play area that will be built when more funding becomes available. However, the lazy river section will be built now, a shallow area just right for splashing and getting your feet wet on a warm day.
Some things are not coming back to the park. It was originally hoped that the old gazebo could be kept and relocated, but the structure was too weak to save. The historic chimney will still be there next to the group picnic shelter, but the sand volleyball courts are gone. The city plans to purchase volleyball standards that can be brought out for events like the tournament on Fourth of July so that volleyball can be played on the lawn. Also, the tennis courts will not be rebuilt.
“The park will now be usable for everyone. It’s a focal point of our community,” added Keating. “We are starting to see the shape of it now with the concrete and picnic shelters going in.”
If you would like to learn more about the reconstruction of Memorial Park, the plans and construction photos are available on the city’s website. You are also welcome to visit the Parks & Recreation office at city hall to see the site plan or ask questions.