By Mayor Michael B. Hancock
I grew up in Denver. I am the person I am today because of Denver schools, Denver neighborhoods and the Denver spirit.
Throughout my childhood, my family and I lived in several neighborhoods, but the one major constant we had was this city’s amazing parks system.
As I look back, it is indisputable the role that our parks and recreation system played in my life. I remember playing ball with my friends at Hiawatha Davis basketball courts and barbeques with our neighbors at City Park.
Today, Denver’s urban park system encompasses nearly 3,000 acres of traditional parks and parkways, 2,800 urban natural acres and 154.9 square miles of urban forest. When you add our mountain parks, Denver’s park system spans nearly 20,000 acres. These are treasures that helped to shape my childhood, and I will ensure that they are available and growing to help shape the future generations in Denver that we will never meet.
Over the past two years, the city has taken great steps to fulfill this mission. Last month, we designated an additional 274 acres of park land, and by 2017, we expect to add an additional 142 acres to our urban park system, with new parks and natural areas planned around the city, including in North Stapleton.
Seventy-five acres of parkland and open space are planned for northeast Denver, starting with the 15-acre North Westerly Creek Park. The site has recently been approved for development by environmental health, and once the transfer of land is complete – which will occur this year – construction of the new park will begin. Natural area restoration projects in the area have also been completed to provide Stapleton families even more places to gather.
Parks and green spaces are about more places to picnic. They have proven economic, social, health and environmental benefits in a big city like Denver. When people choose to call a place home, new businesses and amenities will follow. Our parks and rec. system is critical to providing and maintaining a high quality of life in Denver. As our population grows and our urban city becomes denser, it is important to protect the park spaces that exist, grow parks where we can and maintain parks at the highest level possible.
We’ve accomplished a lot within our park system over the past two years, and I look forward to continuing that momentum as we head into 2014.