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Denver asking for ideas to make its parks better

DENVER – Denver Parks and Recreation is asking the public for help to craft a parks system plan that will serve the city for the next 20 years.

Denver created a “Game Plan” in 2003 that set the tone for the parks system. It is now considered outdated.

“Our system was created over 100 years ago, but times have changed dramatically and our population is increasing. So, we really need to start planning what our system is going to look like in the next five, 10, 15, 20 years,” director of park planning, design and construction Gordon Robinson said.

Denver Parks and Recreation hosted an open-house-style meeting at South High School on Tuesday night to gather input from residents.

Parks officials are interested in specific ideas for new park features such as bike paths and pickleball courts, as well as overall suggestions for the “feel” of the city’s parks.

“Do they want more trees in our city? Do they want a higher tree canopy? Do we want to affect climate change in a way that reduces our heat-island effect?” Robinson said.

At the top of the citywide wish list is a better dog park system. Josephine Dog Park and Barnum Dog Park were closed in 2015. Pet owners often complain that there are not enough off-leash options in central Denver and Capitol Hill.

“Dog parks, we’re definitely hearing a lot about and we’re sure we’ll be providing more resources for that,” he said.

Tuesday’s open house drew in about 100 people from the Washington Park neighborhood who expressed much different needs than in other parts of the city.

“It seems we really can’t do all these wonderful things for the park when the value is being diminished by literally thousands of geese dropping a pound and a half each of goose poop every day,” resident Steve Spirn said.

More than 20,000 Canada Geese live in Denver’s parks year round. That number increases dramatically during migration.

“You can’t sit down on the lawn for a picnic. You can’t walk your dog,” Spirn said.

He says the geese are forcing people out of the parks, and if Denver doesn’t fix the goose problem first, then he thinks it’s pointless to spend money building new parks.

“It clearly needs to be addressed,” he said. “Then let’s do all these wonderful things.”

Denver will host public meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday’s meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at North High School (2960 N. Speer Blvd.) and Thursday’s meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Montbello Recreation Center (15555 E. 53rd Ave.).

An online survey is also available.