Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thornton unveils $11 million ‘central park’ project

This July, the City of Thornton will launch its major 14+ month ‘central park renovation’ to the tune of $11 million. Not so much an improvement endeavor, the project seeks instead to add an additional 44 acres of new attractions and useable open space to the existing 151 acres of city park. The project is expected to complete somewhere during Fall, 2012.

Carousel at Thornton's 'central park'

The Gateway News sat down with City of Thornton Capital Projects and Planning Manager, Diane Van Fossen, to discuss what their major capital investment might mean to the community. “We’re not sure,” said Diane, “if the park will be rededicated…,” when asked whether Thornton’s expanded central park is expected to bear the name of a local dignitary. “...But we’re expecting to add a number of attractions…”

For starters, a pinnacle feature of the new project, and the pride of Thornton’s City Manager, Jack Ethredge, is a carousel that the city acquired from former local retailer, Biggs Department Stores in 2003. Since then, Thornton’s crown jewel has been warehoused but will soon launch as a showpiece for the other $11 million features which also include:

• A boathouse
• Pedal boats
• A 300-500 occupant outdoor amphitheater
• Lighted tennis courts
• Basketball courts
• Volleyball courts
• Bocce ball facilities
• Horseshoe pits
• Shuffleboard
• Expanded trails
• Skate park
• Splash ground
• Parking and Landscape improvements

The primary improvements will be located west of the Margaret Carpenter Recreation Center at 11151 Colorado Blvd. The project will include additional support facilities including public restrooms. Some of the facilities (e.g., the carousel) will be available between Memorial and Labor Day while others will be accessible year ‘round.

Of particular interest to many is the outdoor pavilion amphitheater, which carries with it a myriad of uses with the realms of education, entertainment, and culture. Events and programming already earmarked to make use of the facility include park concerts, art exhibits, a Young Artists Festival, the Thornton Community Band Show, and Movies in the Park.

Project improvements are being funded through Thornton's park and open space tax revenues along with Adams County Open Space grant awards totaling $1,876,122 and a Great Outdoors Colorado Local Government grant award in the amount of $200,000.

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