Community leaders, including Joyce Salazar of RISE; Yolanda Avila, District 4 City Councilor; and Mayor John Suthers gathered to break ground on the Panorama Park renovation project Saturday, May 8. The project is made possible through a partnership between the city of Colorado Springs and the Colorado Health Foundation, Colorado Springs Health Foundation, the El Pomar Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Southeast Colorado Springs RISE Coalition, Transforming Safety Colorado and The Trust for Public Land.

“The city is making a significant investment of $5.5 million for the Southeast residents here at Panorama,” said Suthers. The city's contribution to Panorama Park includes $500,000 from excess TABOR revenue provided by ballot item 2B in the November 2019 election, $1 million from the Trails, Open Space and Parks tax fund, and $4 million from the Parkland Dedication Ordinance fund.

Suthers also drew attention to the contributions of project partners. "Three million dollars has been raised through grants and private donations, and these additional funds have pushed this project to the next level," he said. "While this is meant to be a neighborhood park, I believe this will be a destination park for residents city-wide.”

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Community members break ground on the Panorama Park renovation.

Salazar gave an emotional speech, thanking a number of RISE and community members for their efforts. “As the community outreach coordinator for the RISE Coalition, I work for Public Health in the capacity of having tools available to see the data that really reflects our community,” said Salazar. “From this we’ve seen the data, we know what our community challenges are, we know what we face. As a community outreach coordinator, I’ve also been able to work with organizations, wonderful organizations. Thank you to the El Pomar Foundation for believing in us, for sowing the seed to make not only this, but the future of Southeast Colorado Springs, a destination for culture and diversity in our city. Thank you to Public Health for taking on this challenge, to bring organizations together, to remove the silos, to work together to bring resources, funding, expertise and energy together.”

Construction on the park will be done by Timberline Landscaping. Improvements to the park will include a universally accessible playground, an event lawn with shade trees for hosting music and performances, a bike park, youth area with skate features, a climbing boulder, a multi-use sports field, fitness stations and a splash pad. The park will also feature a community-made tile mural comprised of over 7,000 tiles, and a public art piece funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant. The park's grand opening is expected in early summer 2022.

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.