Grants help fund changes for Duncan Park

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Englewood received the good news that the city had been awarded a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for $350,000 and an Arapahoe County Open Space grant for $250,000 to help develop Duncan Park in the southeastern part of the city.

“We developed the design for the park that is estimated $1.2 million and began applying for grants to complete the project,” said Gerald Black, parks and recreation director, said. “We now have received two grants that total $600,000 and the remainder of the cost, about $612,000, will be matching funds from the city.”

He said the matching funds will be money received over the past few years as the city’s share of the Arapahoe County Open Space Tax. The open space taxes, called share-back funds, are paid to cities based on population and are dedicated to parks and recreational uses.

Jon Santiago smiled when he heard the news about funding for developing the park.

“This park is important to our neighborhood,” said the Englewood man who lives near the park. “My kids play in the park, I walk my dogs there and so do many of my neighbors. Some evenings there are 15 or 20 people in the park and it becomes almost a social gathering as we stand around a chat a while.”

He said he and his family took part in the meetings to help decide the makeup of the park and he is looking forward to the new design and amenities.

“We have a nice park now and the development will just make it nicer,” he said.

Duncan Park is a 3.3-acre site at the intersection of South Pennsylvania Street and East Layton Avenue. Duncan School closed in the mid-1970s, and in 1978 the city leased the land from the school district for use as a park.

The school district, following the recommendation of a citizens’ finance committee, announced in 2007 that it would sell the property. The site included the Duncan School building, which had been leased for several years by All Souls School for use as a preschool.

If the land was sold for residential development, there was a potential to build 18 houses on the site. However, area residents wanted the property to remain a park and appealed to the city council to preserve the open space. The city bought the property for $1.2 million, with the final payment in 2010.

Much of the money for the purchase was in the form of grants from Great Outdoors Colorado and the Arapahoe County Open Space Fund. The purchase included the requirement to demolish the Duncan School. The All Souls preschool remained until the building demolition in 2012.

“In 2011, we held meetings with park neighbors to learn how they wanted to see the park developed,” said Dave Lee, open space manager. “The information gathered at those meetings was used to develop the design for park.”

The new design will include an athletic field, picnic pavilion, a basketball court, two playgrounds, restrooms, a horseshoe pit and new sidewalks.

Black said the first step is to take the information to the city council and develop an intergovernmental agreement to accept the grants.

“We will request bids for the project and hopefully can select a company to do the work in 60 to 90 days. Again, the bid award has to be approved by the city council,” he said. “My best guess is construction on the park will begin toward the end of this year or in early 2014.”