The Public Process

Recently Axel, Kurt, and I hosted an open house held at the City Center Offices. It was the third and last meeting as part of the public process regarding Centennial Civic Center Park.

Centennial recently incorporated to officially become a city on February 7, 2001. It is Colorado’s newest city. Consequently, this is the first park that the City has commissioned. The site is located adjacent to the city offices and will be a true civic green space—something fairly unique for the Front Range (above photo shows the preliminary site). Because of the central role this park will play in the city, it was very important to receive strong public feedback from the residents on their park.

This meant holding three meetings to which the citizens of Centennial were invited. The first two meetings were public workshops wherein feedback was solicited from those in attendance to drawings and graphics presented. The most important discussion involved ideas about developing a park program (playgrounds, amphitheater, trails, shelters and other amenities). What did people want in the park and how should they relate to each other? The other critical thing to establish was the look and feel of the park: aesthetics, character, materials and other park aspects. As Centennial is such a new community this park will, in part, be establishing the identity of the city, making these elements all the more important.

The third meeting was not a formal presentation like the other two had been but instead an open house that allowed for more discussion to take place and for the public to comment on the current plan. It was obvious that residents were starting to get excited about the direction the design was headed and to see the park start taking shape. They provided great feedback and came up with great ideas about things that could be incorporated and changed in the design as it moves forward.

While sometimes it can be hard to juggle so many opinions, in this case everyone was on same page: especially in establishing a list of program elements. For example, most everyone was in agreement that the project should not incorporate any sports fields. In the end, city council has the final say of what stays and what goes. It is nonetheless important for community members to provide their input so as to influence decisions city council makes.

With the public process over DC is incorporating public comments from the final meeting as the plan evolves into the final master plan. Personally, I am very energized to be a part of the public process and design of this project for many reasons. The site has lots of natural features that make it unique such as 35’ of topography difference from east to west, a creek on the west boundary and great mountain views. Not only is this Centennial’s first park but it is not often that we get to help establish the identity of an entire City through park design. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the park is that it is located at the heart of the City and provides a great opportunity to bring the community together. To see people using and enjoying spaces that we have designed is a part of what drives my passion for Landscape Architecture. I believe connecting people to outdoor spaces helps contribute to a better quality of life for everyone. This park will help residents in the City of Centennial feel more connected to each other and the larger community.