Updated: Nov 11
Parks are something that is free and available for anyone to experience, and it shouldn't matter what their income or abilities are to be able to have that experience but that doesnt always seem to be the case. There are trends across the entire county where lower income, more diverse areas of the city lack access to quality parks. According to the Trust For Public Lands ParkScore, Colorado Springs Ranks 58 out of 100. “The ParkScore index is a national comparison of park systems across the 100 most populated cities in the United States. Published annually, the index measures park systems according to five categories reflective of an excellent city park system: access, investment, amenities, acreage, and equity.”
Out of the 5 categories, Colorado Springs ranks lowest in park amenities, and we saw this to be true at one park in particular. In Southeast Colorado Springs there was a 13 acre park with a mediocre playground, pavilion, and backstop all surrounded by a field of natural grasses aka a field full of the annoying stickers that hurt and stick to everything. Panorama Park was not a place for people, it was used in ways that did not promote healthy activities the way parks and outdoor spaces were meant to.
As I asked people to share a memory at Panorama Park, it was often a distant memory of fighting after school or something to the liking. Personally, my only memory of being there was around 2009 when a group of us played capture the flag. One base was Panorama Park and the other was the playground at Bricker Elementary. There must have been at least 20 high schoolers running back and forth through the field of annoying stickers. It was a fond memory but again, my only memory at Panorama Park because there was really no reason for us to go to Panorama Park.
Almost 10 years later I was finally back there, dancing with a group of community leaders in the field, still full of stickers. RISE |Southeast began the work to improve Panorama Park right around the time I joined the organization back in 2018. The first project I was apart of was the planning of Meet Me in The Park, an event aimed to bring people to Panorama Park. The weather was not on our side, it rained, the turn out wasn’t the greatest, but it would be the first of many outreach events.
RISE | Southeast, The Trust for Public Land, and the City of Colorado Springs would go on to hold two more Meet Me in The Park events and several stakeholder meetings, with Panorama Middle School, the Senior Center, and the community at large. Not only that but they worked with nonprofits like Second Chance Through Faith and New Direction Agape Services to conduct over 1000 surveys from community members. Community input was the number one priority in 2018-2019. We had fierce advocates making sure that every aspect of this park had the diverse community of Southeast Colorado Springs in mind.
There was so much intentionality that went into this park from the trees that were picked out, to the signage, to a tile art mural created by the community themselves. They knew this park needed to be something the community would take pride and ownership in after it opened. Its been over a month of being open and I would say it was a major success. Each time I have been able to visit the park has been active, by toddlers, teens and adults alike. I’ve seen people of all abilities enjoying the space, in all the ways it was designed to be enjoyed and more!
The next event held at Panorama Park is October 29, 2022 The Southeast Fall Festival join us!