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A New Look for Denver’s Oldest Park

Each month, City Parks Alliance names one “Frontline Park” as a standout example of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship from across the country. The program identifies city parks that find innovative ways to meet the unique challenges faced as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures and urban neighborhood decay. In recognition of its partnerships and community capacity building, Mestizo-Curtis Park has been named a Frontline Park.

Built in 1868, Mestizo-Curtis Park is the oldest park in the city of Denver, boasting mature trees, aged red sandstone paths, and some of the best views of the city’s skyline.  Located in a district close to downtown and other commercial corridors, the park has grown and changed with Denver, hosting everything from the city’s first playground to massive political rallies.  In 1998, the word Mestizo (“a mix of cultures”) was added to the name in order to better reflect the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood.

As in many other cities, Five Points is seeing an influx of young professionals and families who want to be close to the urban core, and revitalizing green space is essential to the long term health of a neighborhood.  Spurred into action by local activists, a partnership between the Denver Parks & Recreation Department, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the Five Points Community was formed to engage the neighborhood with the park and to identify improvements that would increase park usage.  The outreach process led by The Trust for Public Land identified two priorities: improving safety and security, and reconnecting the neighborhood to the park.

While the two-phased plan to overhaul the park’s infrastructure is still in progress, the community outreach and positive word of mouth about the project has renewed interest in the park, its history, and the incredible potential it holds as a community benefit.  As more priorities are identified and incorporated into the restoration plan, the list of partner organizations and stakeholders continues to grow, including a new nonprofit Friends of Mestizo-Curtis Park group led by neighborhood residents.  Phase 2 of the project, which will be led by the City and County of Denver, will include a Fitness Zone (also built by TPL), improved gathering spaces, an art project, and a community garden, among other capital improvements.

The Frontline Parks program is made possible with generous support from PlayCore.

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