Saturday, April 5, 2014

DENVER CENTRAL RECREATION CENTER - And then there is the question of architecture

Ed: This is the most recent info I could find - dated 6/27/2013
via Dave Felice
by Holly Joyce

A message to Jeff Green, Denver Parks and Recreation's Communication Specialist:

I do not know what you really want to find out by your Online Survey.

But I did take the survey. And as I worked my way from first page to last, I realized that it made me very uncomfortable because it felt like a restaurant menu and I was choosing what I would like to see on my plate or in our future rec center-- choices based on whimsical personal preferences, not on demographics and meticulously gathered facts about the community in which the rec center is to be built. Would you agree that proper planning and development of the site and its programming takes in-depth, scientific research?

Census, City and County data would certainly yield invaluable, timely information concerning ages, ethnicity, and economic factors about the people actually living in the surrounding areas. We are a diverse community, that's for sure, with many populations and our area is growing and changing fast. New apartments and high rise developments are being built up and down Colfax. It is becoming a popular as well as even higher-density neighborhood in which to live, work and play.

So who needs to be served by this centrally-located rec center?

Singles? Gen-Xers? Seniors? Children? Parents? Families? Teens? Capital Hill, Park Hill,South Park Hill, North Park Hill and Whittier Neighbors? Designing this rec center is not like designing one in Stapleton or Wash Park or wherever the population is essentially homogeneous. It is urban and needs to be designed for urban needs.
If there are few senior centers on the Colfax Avenue corridor then an area for seniors is probably appropriate. Cook Park's rec center seems to work very well for its ageing population and gives the rec center a vital function during the time of day when the rest of the population is at work or school -- not at a rec center.

Does the city really want to run a drop-in day care center in a recreation center? Then build one -- as long as it fills a real need that is not otherwise served in the area.

Does the new center need a teen room with East High right next door serving its thousands of students ? Will they use it? How many will it accommodate? It is important to know all this before the rec center is built. What would it offer that would draw them to it? Electronic games? Pool tables? Classes? Activities? How often would it be idle (because teens are in school or working or doing various after-school activities).

Do you want the high school kids eating lunch at the rec center, as they do at the Tattered Cover? A little understanding of the daily patterns of life on Colfax Avenue would go far to helping to design a better facility.

Perhaps multi-purpose rooms for use by different groups and for different activities throughout the day and evening would be used thoroughly and therefore, would be a better strategy for space design.  It is important to know all this before a rec center is ever designed.

There are not many basketball courts in the area either so basketball is a terrific use for a part of a rec center. But you need to know ahead of time if you want the rec center to serve the high school at the end of the school day or the area's working population in the evening or its' growing number of families?

A swimming pool with lazy river and hot tub would serve families and everyone well -- summer and winter. Do numbers support this concept? Again, a study of what populations the rec center will be serving is essential to getting it just right. A pool for competitive swimming and diving might end up being used by many, too? Is East High invited to host a team there? Would this be the proper use for a city rec center? It takes some research to know the answers about users and usage and not an opinion-based survey.

And then there is the question of architecture. I certainly hope the city realizes that there is an obligation to design a building that compliments its elegant and historic neighbor -- East High School as well as suits the neighborhood with its classic brick buildings and facades and helps to make Colfax Avenue so special and unique (7-11 excluded!)

I would love to take another survey that is prefaced by an informative, factual study of the area so those of us who take your survey are grounded in knowledge -- before thinking hard about what it could be!

But if you want to get a bunch or random wish lists from an assortment of local people who just so happened to receive your e-mail, then you are on the right track. The public whom you wish to involve in the process deserve better.

I offer you this opinion because I love Colfax Avenue and want our rec center to suit our area well. We rented an apartment around the corner from the Ogden theater when it was a movie theater, long ago, and then I took the #15 RTD down Colfax to work daily. Later on, we bought a home in Five Points and then moved to Park Hill to raise our family. They went to East. We hang out at the Tattered and Sie; we eat pizza at Fat Sully's. Colfax Avenue has coursed throughout my entire life and I look forward to its new rec center serving me and everyone in my neighborhoods long into the future.

So please do real research. It will pay off.


Holly Joyce,
Park Hill resident
Charter Member of City Park Friends and Neighbors


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