Panorama master plan envisions inclusive, accessible overhaul
An event lawn for picnics, concerts or gatherings.
A skate park where young enthusiasts can ride, play or just, to use their word, “chill.”
A basketball court, a water feature, an accessible playground, a circuit fitness area.
Walking trails and a soccer field and plenty of shade-dappled seating.
Taken together, they may seen like the ultimate wish list for a park – emphasis on the “wish” part. But they are all part of the newly released master plan for the 13 1/2-acre, sun-baked blank slate that is Southeast’s Panorama Park.
The vision was introduced Thursday, June 20, to an enthusiastic group of about 50 local students, advocates and community members. It reimagines the roughly L-shaped park between Fenton and Harwood roads as a developed cloverleaf surrounded by restored natural vegetation, trees and more than a mile’s worth of walking and biking trails.
The three leaves of the clover include a large, groomed multi-purpose event lawn; a multi-use sports field with built-in seating; and an all-ages recreation area with a skate park, playground, workout stations and basketball courts. The plan envisions shelters, concrete and dirt paths, parking with designated drop-off areas and plenty of trees. Full artist’s renderings and the presented vision boards may be accessed at coloradosprings.gov/panoramapark.
The plan is contingent on the blessing of the city Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. If the plan is approved at the July 11 meeting, the park is expected to be completed and open for play in 2021.
“This park will really bring (in) a lot of people,” said 14-year-old Temesha Tucker. “What I got from the surveys was ‘I really want this park to improve’”
The gregarious Panorama Middle School alumni was one of 12 youngsters who served on the Panorama Park Youth Advisory Board. The board solicited community surveys and offered their own perspectives about what should go into the revised space.
“I grew up at that park,” Tucker continued. “This park is my park. … I feel like this will be something I can tell my kids, my grandkids, that I helped to make this park.”
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Planting the seeds
Joyce Salazar, of the multi-agency RISE Coalition told the group it started with a question from Connie Perry, Colorado Springs landscape architect and the city’s lead on the redevelopment.
“We started with a conversation about Panorama Park,” Salazar said. “Then Connie came and said, ‘what do you want to see?’
“I started dreaming.”
That was in 2017. Over the past two years, a broad-based coalition of community partners – comprising the city Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, the RISE Coalition, the Trust for Public Land, a slew of community advocates, a special youth advisory board and park-design specialists, among others – undertook a wide-reaching community-engagement mission.
After two open houses, three parties in the park, 10 meetings with area stakeholder, countless hours going door-to-door and collecting digital and written surveys, the partners gathered the thoughts, wishes and opinions from more 1,400 fans of the neighborhood park.
The most-popular ideas segued into the multi-use, fully accessible master plan that, if approved July 11 by the parks advisory board, will set the stage for a major overhaul of Panorama. Funding for the project to date has been supported by a slew of grants, including a $60,000 boost from the state Legislator’s pilot Transforming Safety program.
“Being able to share that with our community has been absolutely amazing,” Salazar said.
This park is my park. … I feel like this will be something I can tell my kids my grandkids, that I helped to make this park. — Temesha Tucker, 14-year-old Panorama Park Youth Advisory Board member
Watching it grow
Emily Patterson, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Parks for People program, said it was critical that every potential user have his or her chance to speak up about the park. She led a series of community stakeholders meetings that spanned voices from students to seniors.
“It really would not have happened without a lot of people coming to the table,” she said. “We got here through a lot of really great work.”
One of those participants was 14-year-old Christian Vigil. A Panorama Middle School eighth grader, he decided to apply for the youth advisory board because he is a frequent visitor to the park and knows all too well what it currently lacks.
“There’s not many … things to do around here,” Christian, who frequently rides his bike to the park, said. “This is a way to get out of the house.”
His mother, Rachel Ruiz, couldn’t help but grin with pride as she looked over the artist’s renderings of the future park her son helped plan.
“I’m so wildly impressed with all the ideas they came up with and all (the work) they’ve done,” she said. “All of them are so hardworking and dedicated!”
For his part, Christian was humble about the undertaking; but he smiled when his brother, 7-year-old Zayne Vigil, piped up with what would be the last word.
“I want to go play in the park my brother designed,” he said.