About 40 residents of Englewood gathered on Sept. 15 with city employees and councilmembers to talk about Englewood's parks. Emily Gonzales, co-founder of Friends of Englewood Parks, sent out the …
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About 40 residents of Englewood gathered on Sept. 15 with city employees and councilmembers to talk about Englewood's parks.
Emily Gonzales, co-founder of Friends of Englewood Parks, sent out the blanket invitation to the meeting asking anyone interested in Englewood parks to join in the discussion.
“We love our parks,” Gonzales said at the meeting held in Romans Park. “We know most of them could use a lot of work but we believe the city parks department is doing a good job with the resources they have. Our group's goal is to support the city in seeking an additional source of sustainable funding for parks maintenance and improvements.”
At the meeting, Dorothy Hargrove, director of parks, recreation and the library, said the funding for the parks is included in the annual city budget.
“The proposed 2019 budget includes $5.5 million for capital improvements,” she said. “The money approved for parks capital projects next year will be funded by a portion of that $5.5 million.”
She pointed out that the needs for parks included in the 2017 Parks and Recreation Master Plan exceeded the total capital projects funding.
“The estimated cost of improvements just in Cushing Park would be about $5 million and the proposed improvements to Jason Park would cost about $2 million, and it would take about another $2 million to cover the cost of improvements to other parks,” Hargrove said. “The playground equipment at every park is old and needs work and all our park irrigation systems are old and probably should be replaced.”
Dave Lee, Englewood open space manager, said all playground equipment in each park needs to be replaced. He said to completely redo a playground and bring it up to American With Disabilities Act requirements would cost about $400,000.
Lee told the gathering the city annually applies for Greater Outdoor Colorado grants and grants from the Arapahoe Open Space Fund.
“A board evaluates all grant applications and decides on which grants will be funded,” he said. “Also, if we receive a Great Outdoors Colorado grant, we must match it with local funds.”
One resident said the surface of the tennis court at Romans Park was terrible and asked what could be done to fix it.
“One issue with the court is the retaining wall at the rear of the court needs work so drainage doesn't run down onto the court. That needs to be replaced,” Lee said. “Also, the Romans Park tennis court is asphalt and ideally it should be replaced with concrete. However, that would cost about $255,000 that isn't in the current budget.”
Englewood Mayor Linda Olson said the goal each year the money for parks projects is to use the money as wisely as possible and do as many projects as possible.
Gonzales again said she feels the city is doing a good job with the parks with the resources available so the answer is to provide an additional source of sustainable funding for parks.
“I would like to suggest the city council to hold a public forum about parks funding and residents would attend,” she said.
She said the organization will provide information on upcoming meetings on its website at friendsofenglewoodparks.wordpress.com.
Gonzales told those at the meeting that, on a nearby table, there was a petition that anyone who supports more funding for parks could sign. Plans are to present the signed petition to the Englewood City Council. She said anyone can contact the Friends of Englewood Parks by email. The email address is FriendsOfEnglewoodParks@gmail.com
She said those who wanted to urge the city council to support more funding for parks also could sign up to speak at a council meeting on the issue. The meetings are held the first and third Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Englewood Civic Center at 1000 Englewood Parkway. To sign up in advance to speak at a council meeting call the city manager's office at 303-762-2311 or sign up to speak at a council meeting before the meeting begins at 7 p.m. Speakers who sign up in advance are allowed to speak to the council for five minutes. Those who sign up the night of the meeting are allowed to speak for three minutes.
Gonzales also said residents can call or email council representatives as a member of Friends of Englewood Parks and urge the council members to do the research to find additional sources for sustainable funding for parks.
Resident Noelle Brownson attended the session.
“I have been living in Englewood about a year and I like the parks,” she said. “This meeting was very informative as I learned a lot about park funding and how bond issues work. It more than met my expectations. I now know a lot more about the parks and park funding than I did before today and I think that is a good thing.”
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