COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A local park in the Pikes Peak region is getting a major renovation.
Panorama Park is set to undergo the largest neighborhood park renovation in reported city history and will be highlighted with a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
The 13.5-acre space in southeast Colorado Springs, adjacent to Panorama Middle School, had only a very small playground, baseball field, picnic shelter and an unpaved parking lot -- all of which has been torn down in the past two weeks.
Now, much of the undeveloped land will be transformed into a newly renovated park.
“We are so looking forward to starting construction on Panorama Park," said Karen Paulus, the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services director. "This transformative project has already been more than three years in the making, and it wouldn’t have happened without the support of the southeast community, the vision of The Trust for Public Land and the generosity and belief in the positive power of parks from numerous private donors. When Panorama is finished, it will be a destination park where everyone in the city wants to play.”
The new Panorama Park will feature the city's third universally accessible playground, a skate park, climbing boulder, and even splash pads and multi-use sports fields.
The park will also feature a tile art mural comprised of more than 7,000 individual tiles made by community members. Combined, two mosaics titled "Sharing our Light" and "Stepping into our Power."
"And we did surveys and got more community involvement so that the community could, in fact, say what they wanted the park to look like," said Regina English, of Rise Coalition Southeast.
The renovation, expected to be completed early next summer, will cost $8.5 million -- around half financed by the city and the rest coming from private donations, a 2018 voter-approved revenue refund and other sources.
The park opened around 40 years ago but has not had the amenities available in newer parks that were primarily laid out by developers. The southeast side has little available land for new park construction.
"This park is warmer in the summer than other city parks and there aren't many trees here," said Connie Schmeisser, project manager for Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation. "That's why we're installing a splash pad and bathrooms, and why we're keeping the trees that are here."
The project developer is Timberline Landscaping of Colorado Springs, a firm with experience developing several city parks.
"We're having to change the drainage because the park will have so many different elevations," said Timberline CEO Judd Bryarly. "But the biggest challenge is communication, making sure everyone is on the same page."
Schmeisser said that Timberline installed fencing around the park entrances to keep it sealed off, and placed wood fencing on the backyard property lines of some surrounding homes to serve as courtesy privacy fencing.
Jared Cooper, a park neighbor, said that he's happy to see the renovation.
"That park had some shady stuff happening every once in a while," he said. "I'm really excited that the city is putting some money into it and developing it. Seems like they're really looking to take care of it."
Another neighbor said that his only concern is wind gusts blowing dust from the construction site.