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Makeover sought for downtown parks

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jul 25, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — A makeover could soon be in the works for some of Colorado Springs oldest parks: Acacia, Alamo, and Antlers. The City's Parks, Recreation, and Culture Services Department is starting a master plan process for the parks. City Council is also planning to ask voters to keep excess tax revenue to help pay for those improvements.

2019 is shaping up to be another year where the sales tax collections exceed growth limit established under the Tax Payers Bill of Rights or TABOR. Rather than refund the money, the City would ask voters to keep it and invest it in these and other park projects.

The "Triple A" parks were all donated to the city by founder William Palmer. Acacia Park and Alamo Park were established at the city's founding in 1871. Antlers Park was added a few years alter just west of Mr. Palmer's Antler's Hotel.

"Parks are an instrumental part of Palmer's vision for this town," explained Matt Mayberry, Cultural Services Manager for the City of Colorado Springs.

People change with the times, and so do their expectiations of parks. For example, you'll find more kids splashing in the Uncle Wilbur Fountain in Acacia Park than you will square dancing or playing shuffleboard.

Another consideration is that downtown is growing. Thousands of new tourists are projected to visit Colorado Springs after the opening of the new US Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame and Museum. Additionally, hundreds of people each year are moving into new apartments and housing units downtown.

"We're looking at well how are people using our parks, what do they want from our downtown parks and how can we design them in a way that's really going to accomdate all of these changing and existing needs," said Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership.

The master plan process is just beginning. Mayberry explained that if voters agree to the TABOR override question, the goal will be to have the improvements finished by the year 2021 in celebration of Colorado Springs 150th birthday.

"It's not every day you turn 150 and we want to use this opportunity to look back at how we became the Colorado Springs we are today and where we're going in the future," Mayberry said.

The ballot question wouldn't just fund the downtown park projects. The money would also be used on planned improvements in Monument Valley Park, Palmer Park, Cottonwood Creek Park, and the Leon Young Sports Complex.