The city of Denver and neighborhood groups in Westwood won nearly $3 million last year for an ambitious outdoors and recreation program in southwest Denver.
Now, we know just what they’ll do with the money from the Colorado lottery-funded organization Great Outdoors Colorado. And big changes are ahead for Westwood Park and the surrounding area.
A big chunk — about $700,000 — will go to a renovation of Westwood Park, with additional money from the parks and Westwood Unidos.
The $1.2 million park rebuild will include a new natural playground and traditional playground equipment. Other features associated with the renovation are a new shade area and likely some concrete plaza space and concrete trails around the park, connecting three new exercise areas within the park.
The park plan was developed following several community meetings, according to project manager Owen Snell.
“One of the big overall themes was community identity in the park, really wanting it to be of the community of Westwood,” he said. “The kids were real excited about nature-play concepts.”
A few more details: The city’s planning to include are a mechanical water pump, with the idea being that it will produce a stream of water that feeds into a channel and a sandy play area, Snell said.
The reboot also will include better lighting, a full irrigation replacement, and an 80-foot-wide pollinator garden.
“Ideally, we’re starting construction at the end of summer beginning of fall,” Snell said.
The rest of the grant — about $2 million, remember — will go to the broader Westwood area.
It includes new, natural play and teaching areas in Weir Gulch, the verdant creekbed that runs alongside the northwest edge of Westwood.
There also will be a “mini-mountain bike skills course” — it’s unclear where, exactly — and gardening programs, after-school programs, family workshops, outdoor adventures, internships, trails and more, focused on Westwood.
More than 30 communities were competing for this money. The overall goal, beyond the nitty-gritty, is to get young people from one of Denver’s lowest-income neighborhoods into the outdoors.
“Lack of transportation, gear, awareness, and bilingual and culturally relevant programming are all barriers for kids to get outside, whether in their backyard or the backcountry,” GOCO notes.
To that end, the money will fund the creation of a new program called My Outdoor Colorado, bringing together local governments with nonprofit partners.
“They’re a really organized community and really interested in trying to see some improvements done here,” Snell said.
The nonprofit Impact 360 similarly aims to get kids the opportunity to explore beyond Denver’s city limits. Check it out below.