Three parks in Englewood are slated to be renovated this summer after the city approved $3,000,000 for updates to Baker, Centennial and Cushing parks last October.
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Three parks in Englewood are slated to be renovated this summer after the city approved $3 million for updates to Baker, Centennial and Cushing parks last October. Renovations are set to include new sidewalks, restrooms and sheltered picnic areas as well as updates to playground areas.
But perhaps the most high-profile change will center around Cushing Park and plans to scrap a nearly 30-year-old skate park and replace it with a new one in a different area of Cushing.
The plan evokes years of controversy dating back to at least 2007, when residents of homes along West Eastman Ave, which sits adjacent to the skate park, railed against unwanted noise and litter that they said was a result of the park and its skaters. One resident even told the city council at the time that she had called the police after she believed skaters at the park were responsible for property damage and theft at her home.
Now, 15 years later, the city plans to move the park to the north end of Cushing’s parking lot away from homes, something that was sparked by pushback from residents, according to Englewood Open Space Manager Dave Lee.
The proposal has gained attention from area skaters, something that Lee said was evident during a Dec. 14 open house the city held for community members to provide feedback on the project.
“Typically, when we have an open house regarding improvements in a park, we may get a dozen or two people to provide comments,” Lee said. “On Dec. 14, we had between 30 and 40 skate-park individuals who came to weigh in on what they would like to see in the park. It’s important to them.”
The proposal has brought on mixed feelings from the community, said David Riordon, a lifelong skateboarder and president of the Colorado River Surfing Association.
“There is concern. The skate park has been one that people really enjoy,” Riordon said.
Riordon said he has been in talks with local skaters who have urged the city to preserve what they’ve loved most about the park, namely its all-metal halfpipe, a remnant of 1990s-style skate parks that used metal sheets for ramps as opposed to concrete.
The city, as part of its contract with American Ramp Company to rebuild the skate park, is looking to modernize the area with concrete, which will also reduce noise.
Riordon said “1990s-style skateboard parks are going by the way of the dinosaur,” adding that while he understands the need for modernization, the halfpipe may be too hard for some skaters to part with.
“It would be like losing a good friend … it would be sad to see it just chopped up and sent off to a recycling plant,” he said.
Skaters have proposed various alternatives, according to Riordon, such as moving the halfpipe to a space underneath a railroad bridge close to Cushing Park. A more likely scenario, Riordon said, would be donating the halfpipe to Denver Parks and Recreation to be used in its Ruby Hill Park.
But the halfpipe’s survival faces uncertainty.
“I know there has been some interest in reusing (the halfpipe),” said Lee, the open space manager. “But it’s been there for 20-plus years. We don’t know the condition underneath and there are policy regulations as far as disposing of city equipment. So, I don’t see that as a possibility.”
Another area of concern is the new park’s size. The current skate park in Cushing is about 8,000 square feet, according to Lee, but for the rebuild the city is proposing around 6,000.
“I’m lobbying for increasing the size of it, if we could,” Lee said. “But we only have so much money to spend on the park, so there are limiting factors.”
Riordon said the cut presents a significant loss for a park that was, compared to others, already small.
Still, Riordon said the city has made a “concerted effort” to appease everyone in the community including skaters, something that was evident during the Dec. 14 meeting, which he said had a positive and constructive atmosphere.
“I think the community in general is going to be happy,” Riordon said of the plans.
“(When people skate) it’s a melting pot, it’s a place where people learn to get along with each other from all different walks of life,” he said. “It’s a good thing for our community to have.”
Residents can go to www.engaged.englewoodco.gov/park-renovations to provide comments, suggestions and feedback on any of the three park renovation proposals. Input will be accepted until Jan. 7.
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