Jeffco Open Space debate continues

Sara Van Cleve
Posted

When Jefferson County Open Space hosted another public meeting about Crown Hill Park changes, there was one strong message from many residents — don’t change anything.

During the public meeting April 30, Jefferson County Open Space updated residents on the current plans — which include nixing the “Nature Place” play are for children — and released the results of a voluntary survey that 1,223 residents took.

The survey asked residents if the “Nature Place” play area was desirable and the response was 75 percent no and 22 percent yes. Following these results, Jeffco Open Space decided not to pursue the play area.

Jefferson County Open Space Director Tom Hoby said there are three givens for improvements at the park though — trail restoration, which is nearing completion, replacing the restrooms to make them usable year-around and removing the current fitness equipment.

The survey, though, asked residents if they want to see the equipment replaced and, of those that answered the question, it was split directly down the middle.

The other survey question that was less than five percent different for yes and no was the construction of a pergola, or shade structure, with 47 percent yes and 44 percent no.

Hoby then introduced two compromise alternatives for each issue.

The first alternative for the shade structure is to use the one that already exists and add an additional one, making two, 12-foot by 12-foot shelters with additional trees planted around them.

The second shade alternative is a semi-circle trellis that would have 40 percent of the footprint of the first alternative and could be seasonally covered to provide more shade.

The first alternative for replacing the fitness equipment was to reclaim four of the eight spots for nature and put four benches in place at the other four locations, which would allow for stretching and sitting.

The other alternative is to replace half of the equipment stations with new, plastic equipment and let nature reclaim the other half.

During the question and answer session about the options, a resident asked if public opinion is split 50-50 on whether or not to do something, is there a third option or do nothing, to which much of the crowd cheered.

“I understand there is a lot of people in the room that support that notion,” Hoby said. “The question for us is how do we honor the folks who said they wanted something.”

After hearing the alternatives, about 200 residents broke up into small groups to discuss the options and rate them.

Many groups created their own third option though — do nothing and keep Crown Hill the way it is.

Though there was support from citizens’ groups for the trellis, the majority of groups said they wanted nothing to change.

Group support for the replacement of fitness equipment with new plastic equipment and just removing the old equipment and reclaiming all of the sites was nearly equal.

“To me, keeping the animals there or helping the birds stay there is more important than building a lot of structures and putting down concrete,” said Evelyn Simpson, who wore a sun hat to the meeting with a note in its brim that read “This is my shade.” “I’m worried about everything that goes into the ecosystem. A lot of people who go to Crown Hill Park care about that sort of thing.”

While many residents opted for doing nothing, some residents did make arguments for both a new shade structure and new fitness equipment. Some residents said they see the fitness equipment being used every day or even use it themselves and it is a great asset for runners.

In the groups, residents filled out individual ratings of each alternative and left comments; they also filled out a group rating sheet which expressed all of their views.

Over the next month, Jefferson County Open Space will review the comments and ratings made by residents and, while also considering recommendations made at the March 11 meeting, consider what options will be available based on feedback, Hoby said.

Construction on the restroom, an informational kiosk near the parking lot and additional handicapped and maintenance parking is set to begin in late August or early September.

All other construction is on hold until decisions are made regarding what will be at the park.