COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- With the yearlong, $8.5-million redevelopment of Panorama Park on the city's southeast side nearly complete, Mayor John Suthers toured the site Tuesday for the first time.
"It's really incredible, the number of features that are going to be in here," he said. "I just can't imagine. It's a mini-Disneyland."
City officials said that progress so far includes new equipment for the city's third universally-accessible playground and sensory area, a multipurpose turf field made with a sustainable coconut composite, a bike course with ramps and jumps for all skill levels, a climbing boulder, a fitness station and an event lawn with shade trees for hosting music and performances.
Officials broke ground on the project last May; the park opened 40 years ago but was underutilized, rarely used and had few amenities compared to newer parks in the city.
The southeast side also has little land available for new park development, which makes the Panorama project even more important.
The redevelopment is financed by the city as well as by private donations, a 2018 voter-approved retaining of surplus city revenue, and other sources.
Because other new parks -- most recently, Venezia Park on the city's northeast side -- have been vandalized in the past, officials are adding additional security measures at Panorama.
"Such as cameras and Wi-Fi, and all of the features that help us secure that," said Britt Haley, design manager for Parks & Recreation. "We will also have more lighting at this space, and that was something the community asked for."
Also added to the park are more trees, splash pads and other features to keep visitors cool during summer, because the park is warmer during the season than other city parks.
Local artwork will be part of the park's redevelopment, and southeast side neighbors provided input into the park's new design.
With Panorama being largely unused for many years, some neighbors have gotten used to the quiet atmosphere -- one that could change if the park becomes popular.
"Of course, the noise, and the building, and doing all of that has been a struggle," said Alondra Odom, who has lived next to the park for two years. "But as far as putting something back into the community, it's always positive."
The city is in the early planning stages of building Coleman Park, on the northeast side of town, near the Powers Boulevard/Barnes Road intersection.
Voters rejected a ballot measure last fall that called for a tax increase to generate more revenue for parks, trails and open spaces.
“These new parks are expensive," Suthers said. "I think people want them, people will use them. But it’s going to be a challenge to fund parks like this moving forward.”
To see drone video of the park site, visit: https://vimeo.com/668385710.