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First new city park since 2005 debuting in Colorado Springs

July 6, 2017 Updated: July 8, 2017 at 7:27 am
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Colorado Springs Park and Rec workers Rico Barela, left, and Dominic Archuleta install skate stops Thursday on the benches at Colorado Spring's newest park, John Venezia Community Park, at the corner of Briargate Parkway and Union Blvd.. The grand opening of the ranch-themed park will be Saturday. The park will feature three large pavilions, three multi-use artificial turf fields, one in-line hockey rink, one basketball court, six tennis courts and four pickle ball courts. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Crews are putting the final touches for the opening this weekend of the first city park since 2005, the ranch-themed John Venezia Community Park in Briargate.

Before Saturday's opening, crews will need to lay mulch, draw lines on game fields and sweep the area for trash, said Kyle Peterson, a seasonal worker with the Colorado Springs Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services.

"It's going to be nice having a new park up north," he said.

More than a decade in the making, the John Venezia Community Park will be the first new park in Colorado Springs since America the Beautiful Park debuted 12 years ago, said Sarah Bryarly, a landscape architect with the Parks Department.

The park near Briargate Parkway and North Union Boulevard was suggested by a resident at a public meeting on the city's capital improvement projects, Bryarly said.

"And in 2006 funding was allocated and we began the process of looking for a bonding mechanism so the park could get constructed," she said.

When the recession hit in 2008, the money dried up.

"Because of the recession, the bonding didn't happen and the park kind of went on hold for a while," she said.

With the economy on the upswing in 2014, then-Mayor Steve Bach asked the Parks Department to pick up where it left off, Bryarly said. The department obtained Trails, Open Space and Parks Program funding, Parkland Dedication funds and a Great Outdoors Colorado grant. The city also received $350,000 from Colorado Lottery proceeds to install playground equipment, a sandbox, accessible restrooms and more.

The $13 million park boasts 110 acres of land, 30 of which are developed and open to the public, Bryarly said. The rest will remain in its natural state.

A longtime Parks Department employee - who is stepping down from her position later this month - Bryarly said hundreds of people played a part in planning, designing and building the park.

"It has been just a huge team effort from the community all the way around," she said. "It's been a labor of love and I'm ready for it to be open to the public and for them to enjoy it and play in it, relax, have fun and just enjoy themselves."

The park will have pickleball and tennis courts, an in-line hockey rink, a basketball court, pavilions for group outings, a universally accessible playground, about 2 miles of sidewalks and, of course, a 'sprayground," Bryarly said.

Peterson said he thinks the sprayground - a playground with a number of interactive water features - will be a huge hit with local kids.

"It'll be good in the summer," he said. "Kids can come out here, run around and enjoy the water."

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