The completed master plan for the future of Clement Park preserves the park’s traditional uses while adding several new features, including a lakefront boardwalk at Johnston Reservoir.
Now, the Foothills Park and Recreation District must confront the difficult part — finding the funds to implement the plan.
Clement Park, which was built in 1987, has needed a major face-lift for several years, and the district has estimated that $7 million to $8 million in repairs and replacements are needed.
Rather than just provide a list of needs to residents, the district wanted to create a vision for its crown jewel for the next 25 years, said Ron Hopp, Foothills executive director.
“You’ve got to create a vision. Unless you create a vision for people to connect with, it’s hard to go to the community and ask for their help,” Hopp said.
Two different visions surfaced during public comment on the master plan — one keeping the park as it is now while repairing infrastructure, and the second focused on potential future uses.
“It’s kind of like you have this park that you love, but there’s quirks you wish worked better. You don’t want to change the feel,” said Kate Dragoo, district spokeswoman. “It’s just giving it a little jewelry. It’s a face-lift.”
The final plan, three months in the making, aims to strike a balance between the two visions by adding features and uses while keeping the park’s traditional feel, said Kelley Savage, a consultant with Stanley Consultants, which helped develop the plan.
Much of what’s in the plan deals with longstanding issues, including what is described as crumbling infrastructure.
“Unfortunately, the biggest needs and the biggest costs are for projects that are not exciting,” Hopp said.
Two of those projects are replacing the park’s irrigation and electrical systems, which Hopp said affect the entire park and have needed replaced for some time.
During Stanley’s presentation to Foothills, Savage said ideas like creating a BMX bike track and a disc golf course had been considered but were left out because of concerns about overloading Clement Park with new features.
But the plan doesn’t stand pat. It seeks to create more uses around Johnston Reservoir, including a lakefront boardwalk with concessions that would connect the three fishing piers and include a paddle-boat rental station.
“The waterfront feature adds a dynamic to the park that’s currently not there,” Hopp said. “It makes it more of a destination opportunity.”
Also included in the plan is some form of aeration system to prevent the reservoir from developing algae blooms, which has been a problem in recent years.
A synthetic-turf field at the corner of West Bowles Avenue and South Pierce Street is also included, something Hopp said the district has lacked.
Other features of the master plan:
• Some form of permanent concrete seating in front of the amphitheater. The backstage area also would be expanded.
• Several smaller family-sized picnic shelters.
• Additional trail access and signage throughout the park. The plan would also expand the width of most of the trails to accommodate both bikes and pedestrians.
• New lighting for the ball fields and the skate park.
• Parking would be expanded near Columbine Library and at the corner of Bowles and Pierce. Savage said Stanley tried to balance the parking demands for major events like the Summerset Festival with the parking needs of a typical Tuesday night.
In the southern section of the park, the master plan calls for the open-space feel to be kept intact. Homeowner associations south of the park indicated they didn’t want any development in the area, Dragoo said.
One major change for the south section is the removal of the large waste pile that had developed west of Columbine High School’s football field. That pile will be moved next to the park’s maintenance building, where it will be mostly out of sight.
Now that the master plan has been developed, Hopp said the next step is putting a price tag on all the items and trying to find a way to pay for it all.
He said Foothills is exploring creating a public-private partnership for concessions and possibly selling naming rights to some of the new features as a way to raise funds.
Foothills also plans to ask district residents in 2014 for an increase in its property tax. Hopp said revenue from a mill-levy increase wouldn’t exclusively fund Clement Park improvements, but some of the increased revenue could be used to leverage grants.
The next step is for the Foothills board of directors to adopt the plan. The plan should go before the board in December, Hopp said.
Contact Ramsey Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.