Crown Hill Mesa applauds new park’s concept plan

       A Colorado Springs Parks draft concept plan for the new Crown Hill Mesa park gained applause and a few suggestions at a neighborhood meeting April 19. An artist’s rendering shows the revised concept plan for
Crown Hill Mesa’s Gold Camp Park, south of Lower Gold
Camp Road. The large green area is a field that could be
used for baseball or soccer. The circular green clumps are
trees. A shaded playground/sandbox/family play area is at 
the upper left. The tan areas at left are a basketball
half-court and skateboarding area. The brown at the far
left and right represents areas to remain mostly natural. 
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Parks
       The biggest applause came when Sarah Keith of City Parks told the roughly 75 people at the meeting that Gold Camp Park will be built by October. There was also applause for Kristen Downs, who had led a petition effort this winter to let City Council know how much the neighborhood wanted the park.
       The next step will be a presentation at the City Parks Advisory Board meeting Thursday, May 11 at 7:30 a.m. at the Parks Offices, 1401 Recreation Way. Kent Obee, a Parks Board member attending the April 19 meeting, assured the throng, “I anticipate no problems with the Parks Board or anyone else.”
       The 5-acre park will be south of Lower Gold Camp Road and east of Millstream Terrace - the sole Crown Hill street that will connect to the Gold Hill Mesa subdivision when it is built.
       Crown Hill Mesa is a new, nearly completed subdivision of more than 300 homes on 76 acres north and south of Lower Gold Camp Road between 21st and 8th streets. Developers Chuck and Joann Helenberg donated the park land several years ago, but the city could not find the roughly $600,000 needed to develop the site until this year.
       Using local history as a subtle “theme,” the park is to have a children's playground/sandbox with a nearby “family play area,” a pavilion, a large grass field (suitable for simultaneous soccer games and with a backstop for baseball), an area of concrete (for skateboards and half-court basketball), hiking trails, and natural areas around the perimeter to provide a buffer for homes.
       “It sounds very exciting and community-oriented,” said Downs, a mother of children ages 1 and 3, after the meeting. She was modest about her advocacy efforts. “I just took around a letter to the neighborhood and followed it up with a petition,” she said. “Mission accomplished. It was an easy idea. The property was a weed field and this is a young neighborhood.”
       As a neighborhood park, Gold Camp will not be used for citywide scheduled events, such as youth baseball or soccer games, Keith explained. That is also why the park will not have restrooms or a parking lot, she said.
       Two suggestions at the meeting found their way into the plan Keith modified this week for presentation to the Parks Board. One of these was for a basketball court, which several people at the meeting supported. The draft plan had only showed a skateboard area. Also requested at the meeting was shade for the picnic tables that are outside the pavilion near the family play area; the plan now shows trees next to them.
       The historic themes will include a “Midland Railway” via a stamping of railroad tracks in some parts of the park's concrete walkway; a Western “town” implicit in the design of the pavilion; a wagon trail, depicted through “color stamps” of the kinds of dual-rutted tracks a wagon would make; and an ore refinery style for the playground.
       Keith allayed neighborhood concerns about toxic tailings from the location's actual ore refinery - the Golden Cycle gold mill that operated during the first half of the 20th century. “The developer excavated 18 feet deep, so it's a clean site,” she told the audience, then added, to laughter, “Your kids won't glow in the dark.”
       Also expressed at the meeting was a concern about park safety, especially considering the width of Lower Gold Camp, its 35-mph speed limit and the planned development of the nearby Gold Hill Mesa subdivision. A berm is to help provide a separation between the park and the street, and one or more crosswalks across Lower Gold Camp are likely, according to Keith.
       The precise appearance of the theme styles is not yet known. Only so much customizing is possible. Keith said after the meeting that the city's basic ideas will be spelled out in a city document, and the final design will be made by the company that gets the bid.
       She said the timetable calls for the project to go out to bids for a contractor in June, construction to start in July and completion by mid-October.

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