Alliance for Community Trees News

Denver Initiative Targets Urban Forest And More

By Conni Kunzler | October 13, 2017

Source: Joella Baumann, “20-year blueprint for Denver parks envisions 5-mile path around downtown, other changes,” The Denver Post

Denver, CO (October 3, 2017) – A multimillion-dollar initiative looks to expand Denver’s urban forest, and improve the safety and security of outdoor spaces. Denver officials have mapped out a 20-year blueprint for improvements to the city’s park and recreational spaces, including a central plaza and a 5-mile-plus path encircling downtown to better connect nine downtown neighborhoods.

“In a city nearing 700,000 people, it’s never been more important to protect, preserve and grow our parks and recreational opportunities,” Mayor Michael Hancock said at Civic Center park during an announcement of the plan. “Our downtown is more than just a series of buildings, streets and lights — it’s where we come together to enjoy culture, have fun, gather as a community, express ourselves as a city and create memories. And today, we’re bringing a renewed focus to our downtown parks and public spaces.”

The ideas are among several that comprise what the city calls the Outdoor Downtown Plan, a multimillion-dollar initiative that broadly looks to expand the city’s urban forest and improve the safety and security of outdoor spaces. Another of those is an arts and culture park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, a nature-inspired kids play area slated for Commons Park and the Denver Loop.

Mark Bernstein, Denver Parks and Recreation’s downtown area planner, says at least half of the downtown study area is considered to be a park desert, which means having to walk more than five minutes to get to a park. The Golden Triangle, Arapahoe Square and Ball Park neighborhoods were identified as areas of focus to increase outdoor spaces.

“That’s why recommendation No. 5 is to build new parks,” he said. “Downtown Denver is really evolving, and we need outdoor spaces to be included in the evolution.”

Wendy Williams, a director of property management for Vector Property Services, said the move to increase outdoor spaces is a smart one that will continue to increase economic growth and interest of companies to build downtown.

“Companies want to know that their employees want to work downtown,” she said. “It’s not just about sitting in an office all day — it’s about the amenities they can provide outside of the building as well.”

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