Sep 22, 2009 8:08 PM by Andy Koen

Paying for Parks

The City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department may cut 75 percent of of its budget next year, leaving little room financially to do more than simply water and mow.
Parks director Paul Butcher says the $3.1 million reduction would mean the Pioneers Museum, Rockledge Ranch, most of the city's swimming pools would be closed.

But in the county, Fountain Creek, Bear Creek and Fox Run Regional Parks all received a share of $16,000 this week and a commitment to fund the same amount for the next three years. All the money came from private donors through the county's Partners in the Park Corporate Sponsorship program.

Commissioner Sallie Clark says over the past three years, the county has had to cut its park budget in half. Bringing in outside funding has become a critical part of the financial mix.

"What we're looking at is the opportunity for individual citizens or corporate sponsors to help our parks department during these difficult times," Clark said.

Corporate sponsorships and private adoptions aren't a new idea. The Phil Long dealerships have donated money to build the super-sized playgrounds at America the Beautiful Park, Palmer Park, Cottonwood Creek Park and Memorial Park. Businesses and neighborhood groups have also adopted flower beds at the parks and in the city's medians.

But Butcher says companies and non-profits typically prefer to limit their donations to specific projects like a new playground and that finding donors to pay the roughly $20,000 per park that's needed for maintenance is much tougher sell.

"It would be difficult to market out the entire parks system, but any business who wants to come and talk to us and do a trail, or flower beds or a playground, we're more than happy to talk about it."

Click here to download a brochure about the El Paso County Partners in the Parks program.


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