New Con­flu­ence Park will re­open with gala

Ren­o­va­tions in­clude bet­ter ac­cess to trails and water

The Denver Post - - NEWS | DENVER & THE WEST - By Joella Bau­mann

For the past two years, Con­flu­ence Park — at the con­ver­gence of Cherry Creek and South Platte River — has been a mess.

A project de­signed to make the Cen­tral Platte Val­ley park com­pli­ant with the Amer­i­cans With Dis­abil­i­ties Act started in 2015 but stalled with the dis­cov­ery of coal tar buried in the river’s west bank. A year-long cleanup process more than dou­bled its bud­get to $9.4 mil­lion.

Dur­ing that time, pedes­tri­ans and bi­cy­clists have had cur­tailed ac­cess to the park and the trails along the wa­ter­ways.

Many of those ob­sta­cles were gone this week, just ahead of a cer­e­mo­nial reopening of the park planned for Satur­day. Work crews on Thurs­day were putting the fin­ish­ing touches on the cen­ter­piece of the project, the over­hauled Shoe­maker Plaza, a ren­o­vated prom­e­nade with im­proved river ac­cess.

“We dealt with con­tain­ing and dis­pos­ing of the small por­tion we did find. The soil on site is clean and con­tam­i­nate-free,” said Michael Bouchard, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor for de­sign and construction for Den­ver Parks and Recre­ation.” This is the birth­place of Den­ver and a very im­por­tant park for the city. I’m re­ally proud we worked through the coal is­sue that could have sunk a project.”

Gone are the plaza’s com­pli­cated zigzag ramps. Although it doesn’t look tremen­dously dif­fer­ent from its orig­i­nal de­sign, the ren­o­va­tions of­fer greater and safer ac­cess to the water and sep­a­rate, wider pedes­trian and bike ac­cess to the trail.

“When you think about some of the things that used to be in this platte and what we used to do to it, it’s a shame,” Mayor Michael Hancock said Thurs­day dur­ing a on­site briefing. “As the city grew, we let the river’s health de­cline. It has taken a lot of work and re­sources over the years to re­verse the dam­age that has been done.”

Hancock and other city of­fi­cials are set to ap­pear at a cer­e­mo­nial reopening at the park, 2250 15th St., from 1 to 3 p.m. Satur­day. The event will in­clude mu­sic, food trucks and white­wa­ter-recre­ation demon­stra­tions.

With the com­ple­tion of Shoe­maker Plaza, the city will fo­cus on the next phase of the eightyear, $50 mil­lion River Vi­sion project, a re­vamp­ing of all the green­ways along the South Platte River cor­ri­dor in Den­ver that is slated to be com­plete by 2020.

Pho­tos by RJ San­gosti, The Den­ver Post

Construction crews put some of the fi­nal touches on the newly ren­o­vated Shoe­maker Plaza at Con­flu­ence Park be­fore the pub­lic grand open­ing on Thurs­day in Den­ver. The pub­lic is in­vited to the plaza to cel­e­brate the grand open­ing on Satur­day.

The project at Con­flu­ence Park was de­signed to make the space com­pli­ant with the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act, a ren­o­va­tion that stalled when coal tar was un­cov­ered.

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