A park in southeast Colorado Springs will get a nearly $1.3 million revamp, “the largest neighborhood park renovation in city history,” officials said on Wednesday.
Great Outdoors Colorado has awarded the city a $350,000 grant for improvements to Panorama Park, south of Jet Wing Drive and east of Fountain Boulevard, the city said in a news release. That’s in addition to a $935,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation that’s already been earmarked for the project, the news release states.
City officials plan to begin construction in 2020 at the almost 14-acre park, which fell into disrepair amid city park funding cutbacks over the past decade.
Potential upgrades include a new playground, walking paths, lighting and a “community gathering space,” the news release says. The redevelopment has been in the works for months, and the city is still gathering input from residents and other area organizations about what improvements will be made.
In the past 10 years, parks and open spaces in southeast Colorado Springs have benefited from occasional playground replacements, new amenities, trail improvements and lighting and irrigation upgrades, according to the city.
But this will mark the first time that any city park has received a total makeover, said Colorado Springs Communications Specialist Jennifer Schreuder. The closest runner-up would be less than a million dollars in privately-funded renovations done several years ago at Nancy Lewis Park, off East Fillmore Street, she said.
The Colorado Health Foundation will award the $935,000 to the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit that helps establish parks and protect open space, over three years. In a February news releases, the trust said it would commit that money to Panorama Park.
Next to Panorama Middle School, it’s within a 10-minute walk of more than 3,000 residents, according to the city.
“We have heard from residents about how much they value Panorama Park and look forward to the final stage of planning for new amenities,” Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Karen Palus said in a statement. “The upgrades will not only improve safety at the park, but make it a wonderful destination for our community to gather, play and enjoy the outdoors.”
Officials are not sure exactly how much the project will cost, Schreuder said.
Support for the project also comes from RISE, a coalition seeking to give southeast residents a greater voice while helping revitalize the area, which has struggled with high poverty and crime rates.
RISE Community Outreach Coordinator Joyce Salazar said she envisions Panorama Park becoming “a destination park” for local residents and also visitors and tourists.
The park renovation is one of several efforts that are underway to improve southeast Colorado Springs, Salazar said. RISE is also working to bring community events to the Mission Trace shopping center at South Academy Boulevard and Hancock Expressway, she said. The city has planned improvements for that intersection, as well as other areas along the South Academy Boulevard corridor.
“We’re really seeing a change in our community,” Salazar said. “We’re starting to dream again.”
Another local park will also benefit from a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, the organization said in a Wednesday news release.
GOCO will provide nearly $294,000 to Manitou Springs for the redevelopment of the city’s historic Soda Springs Park in the heart of downtown. Upgrades might include a “beach zone” by Fountain Creek, a small plaza and a climbing net on the west side of the park, which is mostly barren, according to a news release from GOCO.
“Any time that we can put some funds into helping improve our parks and public spaces, it’s great,” Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray said. “We’re very excited.”
GOCO awards a portion of proceeds from the Colorado Lottery to efforts that enhance the state’s parks, trails, open spaces and natural environment. The grants have bankrolled countless projects in El Paso County, including the Colorado Springs’ John Venezia Community Park, which opened in Briargate in 2017.