Volunteers pick up slack in neighborhood parks
Adopting no longer just litter detail... see Blunt Park
Adopting a neighborhood park used to be a fairly casual deal for citizens - pick up litter, check for weeds, and let City Parks know about any maintenance issues.
Not anymore. Not with a 34 percent budget cut and the department cutting paid staff this year.
Just ask Sherry Bennett. The Old Colorado City resident volunteered a few months ago to lead a group from the West Intergenera-tional Center in adopting Blunt Park in the 2300 block of West Vermijo Avenue.
Now she's busy cleaning up, moving rocks, hauling water and planting a xeriscape garden in Blunt's long-neglected flower bed. Normally a tile artist (her work can be seen on the wall of the house just west of the Old Colorado City Library), Bennett isn't complaining.
“It's easy for me to go there,” she said. “It's right around the corner.”
She decided to step up for the park because “it needed something. I knew the city was cutting back on a lot of stuff. So I called Stacy [Stang at City Parks] and asked if it was available, and she said, 'Oh, yeah.'”
“We were not able to hire as many summer employees, so we're relying more on our adopters with routine maintenance,” explained Stang, whose duties include coordinating the Adopt-a-Park program.
The city requires park adopters to commit to one year. Chores (as stated on the city website) appear under the heading of “What You Can Do”: Collect trash, remove weeds, clean debris from parking lots or courts, pick up pet waste and align wood chips; and in addition, “special maintenance” projects could involve painting, replenishing chips or sand, or even replacing trees and shrubs and creating chip beds.
Other Westside parks needing adopters are Thorndale, Westmoor, Pioneer, Pike, Cucharras, Gold Camp and Bristol, Stang said. Those with adopters, besides Blunt, are Vermijo (Cheyenne Village, Inc), Bancroft (Old Colorado City Lions Club), Bott (Old Town Learning Center) and Jackson (the McGrath family).
For information on adopting a park, contact the city at 385-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Located just north of Fountain Creek, the 3.3-acre Blunt Park features a baseball diamond (foul balls often find the creek) and a playground with children's equipment.
Blunt's 70-square-foot flower bed at 24th and Vermijo was one of the original Springs in Bloom (citizen-planting) locations in 2004, but was discontinued after a year, chiefly because of the lack of a nearby water spigot. Then, when City Parks staff planted perennials there the next two years, they were stolen. So for the last two years the bed has remained empty.
Aware of such problems, Bennett has developed a rapport with Blunt Park's nearest neighbors. “They've said they would look after what I've planted,” she said.
By the way - inasmuch as Bennett is mostly on her own at this point (not having found the adopter teammates she'd envisioned from West Center) - she'd be happy for a little help, either in the work itself or from people who can donate plants. Her phone is 471-2219.
Westside Pioneer article