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Coal Creek Park

There are plans to redevelop Coal Creek Park in Erie, but the proposed redevelopment is simply a stepping stone toward revitalizing Historic Downtown Erie.

Early this week, the Erie community gathered to hear a presentation by Denver-based DHM Design regarding the redevelopment of Coal Creek Park, located at the eastern edge of Downtown Erie, CO off Kattell Street.

Consultants presented three redevelopment concepts at an open house Wednesday night, March 27, to gather public opinion before presenting the concepts to the Erie Board of Trustees on Tuesday, April 9. Frederick Diehl, an assistant to the town administrator, said on Thursday, March 28, that redeveloping the park would provide residents with a desirable setting and also help downtown businesses gain visibility.

“A large portion of the interest is reinvigorating Historic Downtown,” he said. After discussing revitalizing downtown during a study session in January, the board voted to approve the contract with DHM Design in February. Diehl stressed that Coal Creek Park is just one element of a revitalization project. The project is meant to boost downtown traffic, attract more people to the park, and bring in more customers for existing stores while promoting new businesses to build a thriving economy.

A variety of park elements are included in the redevelopment concepts, including a large performance area and events plaza, playgrounds, art gardens, ice skating rinks, and splash pads, as well as north and south parking lots with a capacity of 148 cars.

At the public meeting, Diehl said his staff received about 50 surveys from attendees, but more than 50 people viewed the plans and listened to the presentation.

A survey was conducted to determine whether residents had visited Coal Creek Park and to gather information on what brought them there, as well as what park elements are most important to them. Additionally, three aesthetic options were presented to residents – natural, historic and contemporary – which would be incorporated throughout the park.

As an example, if Coal Creek Park included playground equipment, it could have a contemporary feel with bright colors and metal play equipment, such as a jungle gym and swings, or a more natural feel with grass instead of rubber surfaces and equipment that uses boulders to climb. As of yet, no information has been compiled from the surveys, so it is unclear what residents want from the park.

Construction of Coal Creek Park began in the mid-1980s, around 1986 or 1987, and the park includes ball fields, a small skatepark, small parking areas, and an outdated concession stand.

Earlier this year, Diehl said, the playground equipment at the south end of the park was removed as well because it lacked up-to-date features.

On Thursday, several children, adults, and dogs enjoyed the sunny day at the park, including Kevin Smith. This 15-year-old Erie resident tested out his paraglider and said he visits the park often with his dogs. As he said, he doesn’t have kids and doesn’t use any town amenities, but he would very much like a dog park to be considered by the town.

“I would love for them to make it an off-leash dog park,” he said. The Gerwyg brothers, Adam, 21, and Trevor, 15, were also at the park Thursday, throwing baseballs around. Having been raised in Old Town Erie, they visit the park at least once a week. Although Adam thought a contemporary aesthetic would entice more families to the park, Trevor suggested that the park’s redevelopment stay true to the small-town feel of Erie.

Although they did not attend the public meeting, they believe that revamping the park will attract more people downtown. In summary, the DHM Design team will request trustees to narrow down the redevelopment ideas into one design that is scheduled to be approved by the end of May.

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