More trash cans and wider sidewalks were just two of the upgrades suggested for Clement Park at the first public meeting on a master plan for the park’s future.
The Foothills Park & Recreation District has hired Stanley Consultants to help formulate the master plan, which will act as a road map for repairs and upgrades at the 25-year-old park.
“The most important thing is, you have to talk to the users (of the park), because they’re the ones you have to make happy,” said Mark Kopatz, manager of Stanley Consultants’ landscape architecture/urban design office.
While the master plan for Clement won’t be finished until November, there is a good chance it will call for more trash cans, more parking and wider sidewalks.
During the public meeting July 22, which drew about 25 people, several attendees spoke about access to trash cans in the park. They were concerned that the lack of trash receptacles, especially near the parking lots, contributes to people littering.
One couple specifically talked about a large trash pile west of the Columbine football field that they consider an eyesore and a safety hazard.
The area has been used for a long time by Foothills to dump plant material and construction waste, said Colin Insley, Foothills’ director of parks, planning and construction.
Insley said the area is the only place in the park that is mostly out of public view, although he did acknowledge it still is visible from the south. Unfortunately, Insley said, the park produces a lot of debris, especially from dead plants.
The pile is filled with dead trees, trimmed branches, mulched wood and several large stacks of concrete with metal rebar sticking out.
“We don’t like it there either, and it’s one of the things we hope we can address,” said Ron Hopp, executive director of Foothills. “Unfortunately, with a 200-acre park and lots of trees, you tend to get that type of debris.”
Hopp said that because of Foothills’ limited resources, the park can’t afford to dispose of the debris as it accumulates. Instead, Hopp said, the park waits until there is a large enough pile to make disposal cost-efficient.
For Matt and Jennifer Wootton, who live south of the park, the debris pile is a safety concern. Jennifer said she frequently sees kids cutting through that area on their bikes, and fears they could be injured.
Another issue brought up at the meeting was creating wider sidewalks that would accommodate both bikes and pedestrians. The wider sidewalks also could have a positive effect on the revenue stream Clement generates.
Lora Knowlton, executive director of the Foothills Foundation, also helps organize concerts and festivals at Clement Park through her business Current Events. Knowlton said Clement loses out on larger events because the park lacks certain amenities.
A big issue, she said, is not having sidewalks wide enough to accommodate vendors’ trucks, which makes it difficult to set up festivals. Trucks driving with wheels on the grass create ruts along the sidewalks, something that Insley said costs money to fix.
“This is exactly what the master plan is hoping to accomplish. Twenty-seven years ago when the park was built, I don’t think there was any anticipation of the types and magnitude of events in this park,” Hopp said.
‘Our civic identity’
Despite their concerns about the refuse pile, the Woottons said they love living so close to the park.
“There’s not a lot wrong with it,” Jennifer Wootton said. “It was good to hear about the issues with the infrastructure we didn’t know about.”
Kopatz said one of the goals for the master plan was to create buy-in from the public, which would help win voter approval for a bond issue by the district.
Foothills estimates the cost of repairs and upgrades at Clement Park at $7 million to $8 million. Kopatz said the public meetings on the master plan would help identify “low-hanging fruit” — quick upgrades that won’t cost a lot.
Knowlton said Clement holds a special place for residents in the south metro area who live in unincorporated parts of Jefferson County.
“Because we’re in unincorporated Jefferson County, Clement Park is like our civic identity,” Knowlton said. “We don’t have downtown to go to. This is where we come together.”
Contact Ramsey Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.
To voice your opinion …
To make your opinion heard on Clement Park, you can attend the next public meeting on the master plan or fill out a survey online.
What: Clement Park Master Plan public meeting
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 28
Where: The Peak Community & Wellness Center, 6612 S. Ward St.
Online survey: www.ifoothills.org/clementpark_masterplan.asp. The link for the survey is on the top of the page.