Bear Creek Park Master Plan open house April 1

       Seeking ideas for an updated Bear Creek Regional Park master plan, El Paso County Parks will host an open house Tuesday, April 1 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Bear Creek Nature Center.
       A draft plan, including rankings for new or upgraded amenities, grew out of more than 400 citizen responses to a County Parks survey last fall, according to County Parks Planning Manager Neil Katz. However, fresh input is always welcome, whether from individuals or groups, he said.
       People can drop in to the Nature Center, 245 Bear Creek Road, any time that evening to look at displays or talk to staff, but those coming at 6:30 will hear a “brief introduction” about the plan, he said.
       No major development is immediately contemplated for the 575-acre park. At the top of the long-range list are a multiuse trail to the Nature Center and an outdoor ice-skating rink, but “money is always an issue,” Katz said.
       The survey listed potential new or upgraded facilities and also asked for suggestions.
       By far the most popular answer, where the survey asked for the “two most favorite facilities,” was “trail system” and “open space.”
       Regarding upgrades of current facilities, one of the top survey requests - improved restrooms - is already being worked on. The restroom at Bear Creek Terrace (the area that has playing fields and pavilions west of 21st Street at Argus Boulevard) has been closed since last summer because of septic issues, but the current construction will solve that problem by hooking the building up with city water and sewer, hopefully by mid-summer, Katz said. In addition, the restroom's capacity will be increased.
       With the exception of trails, nearly all the park development is in the 24 acres comprising either Bear Creek Terrace or Bear Creek East (southeast of 21st and Rio Grande streets).
       The County Parks' proposed facility upgrades that were listed on the survey will all occur at some point. The plan is to phase in the work, Katz said.
       In ranking these upgrades, survey participants proposed improving or expanding (in the following order): the trail system, restrooms, Nature Center, community gardens, playground, pavilions, Dog Park, landscaping, fitness course, roadways and parking lots, playing fields, tennis courts, volleyball court, basketball courts and archery range.
       The survey took heat from some participants for County Parks' inclusion of a golf course on the list of potential new amenities. This came less than a year after about 200 people had attended a meeting to oppose a proposed nine-hole course in Bear Creek East. Katz explained that the survey is basically standardized for use in other county regional parks, so that's why the golf course option was there.
       For more information on the open house, contact Katz at 520-6983, or by email at neilkatz@elpasoco.com.

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