In an ambitious effort to enhance many of the things that Denver residents like the most about the Mile High City, a new plan has been approved calling for the design and building of more parks and recreational facilities.
A document put together by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Game Plan for a Healthy City, underlines the importance of green space in an increasingly growing city, and calls for the strategic upkeep of what is currently some 20,000 acres of parks and urban forests within the borders of Denver.
Intended to provide a roadmap for the next two decades for Denver officials, the plan, says the document, “will guide and inform the development of specific park improvement plans, new policies and regulations to protect and expand parks, and annual management actions and capital investments to make these goals a reality.”
While the document urges a vigorous management and preservation of existing park space, it also tackles the need for additional park space in a city that has experienced explosive population growth, with the number of residents jumping from 467,000 in 1990 to nearly 720,000 today.
“From 2010-2016, the city experienced an 11 percent growth, while park space didn’t keep pace,” the document reads. “Denver’s park access of 9 acres per thousand residents is well below the national average of 13.”
Even so, the city does have up and running some 260 parks, 80 miles of trails, 10 dog parks, 29 pools, and 28 recreation centers, among other designated outdoor amenities.
The document also notes that many Denver neighborhoods do not currently have “walking access to places to experience nature,” and that the city’s mountain parks “are difficult to access for families without a car.”
A good deal of the plan’s goals are already being realized due to the passage last November of a .25 percent sales tax designed to raise at least $37 million for park building and maintenance. City officials say work is already underway not just on acquiring more land for parks and open space, but also planning out that new space.
By Garry Boulard