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John Venezia Park to open in Briargate

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BETHANY ALVAREZ
  • Bethany Alvarez

John Venezia Park, the city's ninth community project of its kind, promises a summer of fun for residents and visitors on the north side of town. With a water park, giant field and room to roam, this park has been a long time coming.

“We were given the land when Briargate was developing,” says Sarah Bryarly, landscape architect and manager of Design Development at Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services. “A couple days away from putting it out to bid, the economy collapsed and we weren’t able to get the bonding we needed, so it was put on hold until 2014.’’

BETHANY ALVAREZ
  • Bethany Alvarez

The $13 million park was brought back to life in 2014, after the parks department secured the funding. Construction on the two-year project began in May 2015, and now the park is set to open July 8 — the official event is from 11:00 A.M.-1:00 P.M.

“None of this park is General Fund dollars. This is all Park Land Dedication ordinance (PLDO) dollars  and Trails, Open Space, and Parks (TOPS) sales tax,” Bryarly says.

The majority of the money for the project came from the PLDO, the fee Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services collect from developers. Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), funded by the Colorado Lottery, also contributed by awarding a $350,00 grant specifically for the playground, on top of money collected via the voter-approved TOPS dedicated sales tax and additional department funds.

BETHANY ALVAREZ
  • Bethany Alvarez

The park sports a ranch theme, with a "homestead" pavilion and picnic area, a "corral" playground including a "watering hole" spray-ground, and the "range," with fields for soccer and basketball, plus tennis courts and space for other activities. Near the edge of the park is the "pasture," a quiet, shaded area with small meditation areas and trails separated from the lively activity of the rest of the grounds. Each section of the park has handicap and stroller access, and with 414 parking spots stretching the length of the park, it's easily accessible.

“Really, Venezia park is 110 acres,” Bryarly says. “But we’re only developing 30 acres.” The remaining 80 acres is dedicated as habitat for the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse, a species found only in Colorado and Wyoming, and will remain undeveloped.


Creating a park of this scale is no easy task, and Venezia took a group effort. “Everything was really a collective community design,” Bryarly says. “We had a great turnout from the community, they really gave us their input, desires and wishes for the park, and that’s what we tried to provide for them.”





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