June 10th, 2021 | Issue 003: In Our Parks Newsletter
The Denver Park Trust, in partnership with Denver Parks and Recreation and Game Plan for a Healthy City, is bringing you a monthly newsletter featuring stories, surveys, events and more in and about Denver’s parks.
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The St. Charles Place Park Story
How the Five Points Youth Ambassadors Created a Community Space for All
St. Charles Place Park, located on land acquired by the City in 1911, sits at the confluence of two communities. On one side is the historic Cole neighborhood, a community made primarily of single family homes, many built around the same time as the park. To the northwest lies the River North Arts District (RiNo), a neighborhood with a mix of residential, office and retail, much of it built in the past decade.
In late 2018, an idea to connect the two neighborhoods—old and new—in a genuine and meaningful way began to percolate, and St. Charles Place Park was identified by all as the centerpiece for bringing the two communities together. The 1.2 acre park, located next to the St. Charles Recreation Center, was in poor shape and had not been upgraded or improved upon in decades.
From the beginning, the proponents of connecting the communities were committed to breaking down barriers that existed between new development and the residents who have lived in the area for generations. To that end, Tomas Salazar, Phranklin Gerdine, Tavi Tootle, Virgyl Gerdine, Lonzel Smith, Rose Watson, Mekaela Silby, and Gianni Contreras, youth from the Cole neighborhood, came together as the Five Points Youth Ambassadors and, with the support of mentors, led the community engagement process to reimagine the park.
Using feedback from the community, the Ambassadors selected a natural playground as one of the main features of the reimagined park. Providing children in the neighborhood with a place to learn about nature as they play. The Ambassadors also gave input on the layout of the park and their thoughts are reflected in the final design, which includes seating near the playgrounds, grass areas for picnics and climate friendly landscaping.
In addition to providing the vision and hours of hard work, the Ambassadors built a diverse coalition of project partners that includes, Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, Blake Street Tavern, Councilman Albus Brooks, Collegiate Peaks Bank – RiNo, The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Parks Foundation, Crush, Denver Arts & Venues, Denver Park Trust, Denver Parks and Recreation, Ero Resources, Thomas “Detour” Evans, Five Points Development Corporation, Chris and Liz Fuselier, Green and Evergrowing, Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Industry Rino Station, Inner City Health, Innovative Land Consultants, Iron Horse Architects, Landscape Structures, The Lumpers, Pioneer Landscape Centers, Rainbird, Ride, RiNo Beer Garden, Sunbelt Rental, Valerian, The VF Foundation, and the Winkler Family.
Today, St. Charles Place Park sits ready for an official opening on June 28 to the residents of Cole and RiNo and will truly be a community space for all, thanks to the leadership of the Five Points Youth Ambassadors.
Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) celebrated the completion of the restoration and repair of the Sullivan Gateway enhancement to the City Park Esplanade
Sullivan Gateway, built in 1917, marks the south entry of the City Park Esplanade, part of the City Beautiful Parkway Historic District. The restoration of the terracotta walls and lion-head fountains restores an important architectural feature of the City Park Esplanade. The Gateway includes two 300-foot terra cotta walls with two forty-foot tall freestanding sculptures atop Doric columns that represent early Colorado agriculture and mining endeavors. It was listed on Colorado Preservation Inc.’s list of endangered places in 2013.
“The century old grand gateway to the entrance of Denver’s City Park had fallen into disrepair,” said Happy Haynes, executive director of Parks and Recreation. “The restoration of this landmark structure exemplifies our commitment to preserving Denver’s legacy by providing beautiful places for people to enjoy.”
The first phase included the refurbishment of both the east and west lion head fountains and new mechanical and electrical work for operation and rehabilitation of the historical terracotta wall adjacent to the fountains. The final phases completed the restoration of the remaining terracotta crescent walls on both the east and west side and associated landscape improvements.
The $4.7M Sullivan Gateway project work was paid for in part by a $200K History Colorado – State Historical Fund Grant, and a $1500 donation from the East Angel Friends and Alumni Foundation and the DPR Capital Improvement Fund.
More about the Great Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl are the largest & heaviest owls found in Colorado, with wingspans up to 5’9’’
• Thought to be the longest lived owl in North America, banding projects have found Great Horned Owl to survive over 20 years in the wild
• Their diet is the most diverse of any North American raptor, consisting mainly of mammals but also including other raptors, waterfowl, insects, frogs, lizards, and snakes
• Special filaments on their wing feathers allow them to fly silently and sneak up on their prey
• With the largest eyes of any owl species, Great Horned Owl are able to see 100x better than humans in the dark
• Their ‘horns’ are actually tufts of feathers. These tufts do not enhance hearing but are thought to aid in camouflage by changing the owl’s silhouette
• Great Horned Owl have nested in many of our parks, including First Creek, Sand Creek, and Wash Park
• Nesting can begin in January, but pairs often establish nests in February & March
• Great Horned Owl nest in trees, utilizing abandoned nests built by other species or cavities within trees & snags
• Pairs average 2-3 owlets per season, with incubation lasting about 35 days
Managing Great Horned Owl in Denver Parks
• Nests can fail due to human disturbance, including if nests are crowded by people trying to get photos. Always give wildlife space and encourage our park users to do the same!
• Please report nests to Natural Resource Operations so they can be mapped & monitored
• Great Horned Owl habitat continues to decrease due to human encroachment and development. DPR’s protocol for conserving existing habitat in our parks is as follows:
(1) Survey any project site for nesting behavior and/or active nests before any work begins
(2) Avoid starting a project during nesting season (January—April)
(3) If possible, consider leaving existing habitat (e.g. old nests, mature trees, snags)