Mar 9, 2010 10:43 PM by Andy Koen

Park maintenance a grass-roots effort

A growing number of people in Colorado Springs are volunteering to clean up their neighborhood parks in response to the city's removal of trash cans from them.

Of the 125 neighborhood parks where the waste bins were pulled, some 22 have been adopted.

Steve Immel lives across the street from Judge Lunt Park on the northeast side.  He says he and his neighbors immediately noticed a change when the trash cans were removed.

"We just right away started noticing trash just collecting in the park, blowing into the front yards of all the neighbors," Immel said.

With the weather warming up, Immel was worried that things could get worse.  So, he created the Proud of Our Parks movement, an online effort to organize neighbors into adopting their parks and emptying the trash themselves.

"It just started out as an idea that turned into a conversation that turned into a movement," Immel said.

Emptying the trash is a responsibility that homeowners near Patty Jewett have already taken on for the pocket park along Shooks Run Trail. 

Amy Triandiflou is the chairperson of the local neighborhood association. She says the city put the trash can back in their park after the neighbors there all agreed to empty it on a regular basis.

"We wanted to make sure that this area was kept clean, it was presentable, it was representative of our neighborhood, Triandiflou said.

But a long term solution for funding the parks could take time and money.  The city has cut its parks budget from $19 million in 2008, to $3 million in 2010.

Director Paul Butcher says the city is saving nearly $40,000 this year in hard costs associated by not collecting trash ($5,700 for liners, $10,000 in dumpster service and $24,000 in landfill fees.)

The Trials and Open Space Coaltion is surveying springs residents about how much they're willing to give to better fund parks and open space.

Executive Director Susan Davies says they want people to really think about how they feel about their parks, trails and open spaces.

"What is that connection and if they're willing to pay for them," Davies said.

Around 14 major parks and city owned sports complex still have trash cans.  They include Acacia Park, Bancroft Park and America the Beautiful Park. 

Butcher says those parks generate sufficient revenue from pavilion rentals and other fee based uses to cover the cost.

Click here to take the Trails and Open Space Coalition survey.


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