A concrete slab covers a good portion of the westside Bancroft Park.
When you think of a park, what comes to mind? Trees? Grass? Concrete?
The latter seems to be in abundance at the overhauled westside Bancroft Park for which the city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last year.
And the new version hasn't been pleasing to some.
"It has no business being called a park anymore," says Donna Strom, a parks supporter who backs the Protect Our Parks ballot measure that would ensure voter approval be gained before the city sold or traded away park land in the future. The measure might appear
on the November ballot.
"They really should rename it Bancroft Plaza," she adds.
Judith Rice-Jones, with the League of Women Voters and a long-time parks advocate, is equally dismayed. She wonders if adding concrete will exacerbate the city's considerable stormwater drainage problems that erupted in a lawsuit filed by the EPA against the city in 2016 for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.
She notes that normal urban planning calls for minimizing "hardscapes," because massive amounts of concrete increase summer temperatures and create "urban heat islands."
"As a CC [Colorado College] Environmental Studies class presented to Council," she says via email, "we already have issues with shade inequality in our city." The study showed that the city's southeast sector has an average temperature 8 degrees hotter than the rest of the city due in part to a "preponderance of major and minor arterials and especially their tree canopy deficits," Rice-Jones says.
Another critic, Dana Duggan, has a term for what's happening in not just Bancroft but other parks and open space areas: "carnivalization."
Big swaths of concrete create space to sell food and curios and stage events "like Vegas rather than simple, well maintained parks with green grass in the middle of a concrete jungle," she says in an email.
"They want to make money and create marketing opportunities," Strom says. "Picture it: A row of stalls down the plaza, all of them making money."
Some residents fear the same approach will be applied to three historic downtown parks now under going master plan overhauls
: Acacia, Alamo Square and Antlers parks.
But city spokesperson Vanessa Zink asserts that "a significant public process led to the final design and reconstruction of Bancroft Park," a $550,000 project funded by the Trails, Open Space and Parks tax (TOPS), Lodgers and Automobile Rental tax (LART) and the Old Colorado City Foundation.
"One of the top citizen comments during the master plan process was a request for space that better accommodated special events, especially the weekly farmers market that is traditionally held each summer and fall," Zink says in an email. "As such, additional concrete was added to this park. The updated concrete plaza space creates a more sustainable area for these special events to take place. Eight additional trees are still set to be planted in the park."
Additional information on the Bancroft Master Plan
is available here.