It’s one of the city’s oldest parks. But the city says the issues with crime and homelessness are also getting old and they’ve admittedly run out of ideas.
Dorchester Park has a lot of history, but it may not have much of a future – as a park.
“We do our best to try to keep up with it and it’s time consuming,” said Kurt Schroeder, Maintenance and Operations Manager for the City of Colorado Springs. “It’s zapping a lot of our resources,” he adds.
The park covers about 7 acres. In 1890, the land for the park was donated by John M. Dorr, with a stipulation. It had to be zoned as a park for the enjoyment of the Colorado Springs community.
Schroeder says these days the park activity makes the space unsafe for recreational use, saying “No kids are playing. The swings don’t even swing” and that “they were continually vandalized.”
Hundreds of man-hours have been spent cleaning it up, but nothing seems to stick.
“What we’ve experienced is a high degree of crime, drug use, alcohol abuse. It’s no crime to be in the park. What you do in the park maybe the crime,” he said.
Schroeder says his staff commits more time to Dorchester than any other park in the system and there are 135 others.
Now the city is asking the question, “What if?”
What if they change the space entirely for future generations?
“We haven’t come up with [an idea] that we’ve focused on yet. We are collecting information and scratching our heads a little bit and hopefully in the near future will have a path forward but right now we don’t know what that would be,” he said.
The city says they are in talks with the heirs of the Dorr family but no decisions have been made. City officials say they’re open to ideas from the public and say they will keep the community in the loop as they move forward with their plans.