“Dinosaur Park” will still have a dinosaur, if you call this a dinosaur

The beloved playground at McWilliams Park won’t lose its most well-known feature.

A concrete dragon by John Sutton at McWilliams Park in University Park, Nov. 26, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A concrete dragon by John Sutton at McWilliams Park in University Park, Nov. 26, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Dinosaur Park is keeping its dinosaur.

While it’s not actually a dinosaur (it’s a dragon) and it’s not technically called Dinosaur Park (it’s McWilliams Park), the playground’s most well-known feature is staying put thanks to dino-lovers who rallied behind it after the city threatened to remove it. The announcement was made last week during a public meeting on potential improvements for the park hosted by the city.

The park, located in the University Park neighborhood, is one of several slated for upgrades paid for by the Elevate Denver Bond Program. Denver Parks and Recreation project manager Chris Schooler said the city had considered removing the dinosaur, which is made of concrete, as part of said upgrades, since the  dino doesn’t meet playground safety standards. The city had suggested replacing it with a playground feature that met current safety standards.

But, “when we started to look at the project, we realized that the dinosaur was really important,” thanks in part to community fervor over its proposed demolition, Schooler said.

A structural assessment of the dinosaur commissioned by the parks department showed it could be repaired, with estimated costs to fill in its cracks ringing in at $40,000 to $50,000.

The bond program allocated $550,000 for the park’s overall improvements, which will include the picnic area and basketball courts.

The dino will become whole again by the end of this year, while the park’s upgrades will be complete by early 2021.

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