pikes peak

Larry Terrafranca and Jilian Harris walk around Prospect Lake in Memorial Park Thursday, April 11, 2019 as a freshly snow-covered Pikes Peak peeks through the clouds the day. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

“Parks are powerful.”

Have you ever thought about parks in that way?

Cari Davis of the Colorado Springs Health Foundation made that remark as we celebrated improvements to Memorial Park. The foundation has invested $926,000 making the community park healthier and more accessible with improved walkways and fitness stations. It’s worth a stroll around Prospect Lake to see the improvements and try out the nine fitness stations circling the lake.

Powerful tools for health and powerful tools to build community. The Patty Jewett neighborhood is coming together to improve a little park adjacent to the Shooks Run Trail. They plan to call it Patty Jewett Junction, a nod to the railroad that once ran through their neighborhood. The new park will cost $200,000. They’ve already raised more than $37,000 from just 15 donors.

If you attended the latest “porchfest” in Patty Jewett, it’s clear people living in that area take great pride in their neighborhood and have a fierce loyalty to it. I have no doubt they will raise more money and build their park. Sadly, we have ailing parks in our community without organized constituencies. Antlers and Thorndale Parks are two examples, but they also could see improvements depending on the fate of Issue 2B this November.

Voters will have the opportunity to forgo a $31 utilities credit and allow the city to invest $7 million in park projects. Antlers and Thorndale are on the list of nine parks and four trails that would receive funding for improvements if enough people vote yes on 2B.

Nearly 150 years ago, a railroad man with a grand vision bought a large piece of property and began methodically covering it with trees and parks. He too believed parks were powerful. That’s why Gen. William Jackson Palmer donated so many acres of land to be turned into parks we now enjoy — Acacia, Antlers, Alamo, North Cheyenne Canon, Monument Valley and, of course, Palmer.

Imagine having the ability and the will to make that kind of a contribution. Fortunately, his legacy lives on in local foundations, philanthropists and small but mighty neighborhood groups committed to improving our city —one park at a time.

Davies is executive director of Trails and Open Space Coalition.

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