Side Streets: Community steps up to transform park entrance eyesore

By: Bill Vogrin
April 20, 2014
photo - Here is now the entrance to Discovery Park on Pebble Way looked before the landscaping project initiated by the Discovery Homeowners Association. Photo courtesy Jack Lundberg
Here is now the entrance to Discovery Park on Pebble Way looked before the landscaping project initiated by the Discovery Homeowners Association. Photo courtesy Jack Lundberg 

Last week, I told you about a woman who was unable to get permission to landscape her neighborhood entrance.

Today I'll tell you a much happier story about a neighborhood that persuaded private businesses and city agencies to collaborate and give a landscaping face-lift to a city park entrance!

For years, the entrance to Discovery Park off Pebble Way in Rockrimmon was just an overgrown bush between two sidewalks.

It's a busy entrance, especially on school days when it's used by dozens of kids and their parents going to and from Rockrimmon Elementary School, which abuts the southern edge of the park.

And it's busy after school, used by sports teams using the baseball diamond and soccer fields.

And by people using the picnic tables or getting exercise for themselves and their dogs.

And by parents and kids using the playgrounds.

Despite all the traffic, the entrance is nondescript. Ugly, actually, with the overgrown bush and a long under-curb sewer draining into Dry Creek, which runs along the western edge of the park.

I've driven past it twice a day for years and always wondered why it was never landscaped, or the bush hacked back to open up views into the park.

Worse, the bush created a dangerous situation. Kids on bikes or skates sometimes came buzzing down the sidewalks and around blind curves created by the huge bush and came face to face with strollers or folks walking dogs.

The bush also offered a hiding place for wild animals that hunt the area, especially along the creek. Coyote, fox, bobcat and even mountain lion are commonly seen in the neighborhood.

A few months ago, the park entrance was mentioned by neighbors to the Discovery Homeowners Association, which took a look at it.

"That thing is really ugly," said Jack Lundberg, HOA president. "Nobody liked the bush and we decided it was an eyesore in the neighborhood."

What happened next was an example for the entire community.

Discovery HOA enlisted the help of city agencies, school children, area businesses and its residents to coordinate a makeover for the park entrance that evolved into a public/private partnership.

Construction will start in a few weeks to transform the park entrance into a professionally designed entryway complete with a xeriscaped garden, footpaths and other landscaping.

It's an ambitious project to which Discovery HOA committed $4,000 as well as a promise to provide long-term maintenance of the garden entrance.

Still short of funds, the HOA went in search of help from the Colorado Springs Parks Department, Colorado Springs Utilities and others.

"Like any remodelling project, we found we couldn't afford it," Lundberg said.

That's because the plan grew when the HOA learned water was available for irrigation from a city sprinkler system.

And the parks department had $1,000 available to help. Utilities offered to donate pipe and valves and things if the neighborhood installed a xeriscape garden.

Still short of cash, the HOA approached a neighbor who works as a landscape architect to design the entrance for half the normal rate. Then the HOA approached a nursery and landscape materials supplier for donated materials.

"This project is a model of citizen/agency/business cooperation," Lundberg said, noting the project would cost at least double what they are actually spending without all the help.

The HOA even got the school involved.

"We thought it was important to involve the school," he said. "We got student input in the design. And the school has an environmental ecology program and greenhouse. The students will cultivate annual and perennial plants from their garden for use in the new garden."

It sounds like a great collaboration and I can't wait to see the results when construction is finished in May.

Lundberg is excited, as well.

"It's a neighborhood success story," he said. "I'm real proud of it."

He should be. And it has me thinking. My front yard is a wreck. It's a 1970s version of xeriscaping: an ugly mix of bleached-out river rock and lava rock.

Maybe, if I can persuade the folks in parks and utilities and a landscape architect . hmmmm.


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