Parks, parkways and quality of life

Filed under: Opinion |

At a recent Downtown Partnership Development committee meeting architect Parry Thomas presented the plan for revitalization of the Monument Valley Park.

The park has basically remained unchanged since 1944. But judging from the number of runners I see from the CSBJ office heading to and coming from the park, and the number of people in the park that I glance at every time I drive over the Bijou bridge, I would imagine that the community would likely be interested in these plans.

The committee is planning to meet with the Fine Arts Center, neighborhood groups and Colorado College to see what ideas they have about the park.

A public meeting about the master plan for Monument Valley Park has been tentatively scheduled for Sept. 21 at Colorado College.

Some of the issues that were discussed during the committee meeting included the impact of adjacent land uses, maintenance and preservation, accommodating active and passive recreational use, homeless problems, (this may be an issue for another day and a longer column) and lighting.

The one thing that did ring loud and clear was the importance of Monument Park’s connectivity with Confluence Park, without having to wade downstream.

The direction of the master plan is to keep the historical integrity of the park, Parry said, and it was Gen. Palmer’s vision that the park be an urban oasis. He also said that one of the goals is that there is public interaction with the creek.

Tying in with the connection of Monument Valley Park and Confluence Park is an overall master plan of an “Emerald Necklace.”

This forward thinking concept would create a park system or belt way that would surround the downtown area. I think this is a sound plan. It is my belief that as an area’s downtown goes, so goes the region.

We should put resources behind building the downtown area as we continue economic development and business recruitment for the region.

Along that same note, but not really having anything to do with park space, there is a question that I’d like to pose. Shouldn’t there be an entry boulevard to the city from the airport that offers visitors a first-class impression of Colorado Springs? I haven’t found a route from the airport that makes me feel encouraged to bring business people into downtown. Maybe I just haven’t been in town long enough, but let’s be honest, East Platte and Highway 24/Fountain Boulevard aren’t exactly scenic parkways.

A prospective businessperson flying into the Springs doesn’t get a pretty picture of us and as they say&first impressions are everything.

On a completely separate note, Richard Florida, a widely acclaimed author and H. John Heinz III professor of economic development at Carnegie Mellon University, is coming to town, sponsored by the Independent and Colorado College. His latest book, “The Rise of the Creative Class: And How Its Transforming Work, Leisure Community and Everyday Life” has instigated national debate concerning economic growth and development. On Nov. 10, Florida will talk about how to build a region by attracting and keeping well educated, talented young people. Those quality-of-life issues and area amenities, like a strong downtown, are important aspects to building the economic stability of the Pikes Peak region.

And just so I don’t leave anything out, the United Way held its annual fund-raising campaign kickoff breakfast on Wednesday. This year’s goal is $5.7 million. Given the size of our community and the generosity of the folks who make up that community, I’m hoping that the goal isn’t simply reached, but exceeded beyond expectation. The United Way supports many worthy causes in our area, so please give some thoughtful consideration to donating generously.

Look for more details on all of the above in upcoming issues of CSBJ.

Publisher Lon Matejczyk can be reached at 634-3223, ext. 202 or Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com.