Carpenter Park has grand opening

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The grand opening of the Carpenter Park Saturday marked the completion of decades-long plan for the 150-acre site at Colorado Boulevard and 112th Avenue.

“What a place!” said former Mayor Margaret Carpenter during the ceremony. “When we first thought of this, believe me, it didn’t look like this.”

Carpenter served 26 years on council — as Ward 3 councilwoman from 1973 to 1980 and as the mayor from 1980 to 1999. She said she was humbled by the park being named after her. The recreation center was named after her in 2004.

City officials and staff celebrated the ribbon cutting of the new park space, which is adjacent to the Margaret W. Carpenter Rec Center and open space, prior to the kickoff of the 18th Annual Thorntonfest.

“This is a rare opportunity,” said City Manager Jack Ethredge. “It’s not often you get to come to an event that is the completion of a community dream.”

He said the 150-acre site had three phases — the recreation center, the open space multipurpose fields and the new park space. The new 48-acre development on the site features an outdoor amphitheater, a boathouse for pedal boats, an indoor carousel, splash pad and a sports plaza area.

“A project of this size and magnitude isn’t completed by just one department in the city — it takes a village to build something this large,” said Mike Soderberg, executive director of community services.

Ethredge said the total construction cost was approximately $11.2 million, and paid for primarily by the city’s Parks and Open Space Tax revenue. Funding also came from the Adam’s County Open Space tax revenue distributions, which totaled $375,000. The rest was paid through grants — including two Adams County Open Space Grants in the amount of $1.87 million — a Great Outdoors Colorado Local Government Grant for $200,000 and a Division of Wildlife Fishing is Fun Grant for $21,800.

Diane Van Fossen, capital projects and planning manager with the city, described the park as multi-generational, especially the sports plaza area, which has tennis and basketball courts, sand volleyball, bocce ball, shuffleboard and horseshoes.

Adjacent to the courts is the multipurpose area where people can fly kites and throw Frisbees and a 14,529-square-foot skate park featuring a street course and bowl. This is located near the corner of 112th and Colorado area of the park.

The new amenities include an amphitheater, which can seat between 300-500; an 18,000-square-foot playground and splash pad; a boat house for the new paddle boats; concession and bathroom facilities; shade shelters and the indoor carousel the city acquired from the biggs store that used to be at Thornton Town Center.

Mayor Heidi Williams encouraged residents to take advantage of the new amenities and to spread the word that the park was opened.

“Let’s keep our community healthy — let’s keep our kids healthy,” she said.

The boathouse and carousel will operate from 4-7 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 2.