After nearly six months on the sidelines, the new and improved basketball courts at Washington Park have opened.
The courts reopened on July 19, and had everything done except the paint striping. Michael Bouchard, the assistant director of design and construction for Denver Parks and Recreation, said that the concrete has to be fully cured first and that he expects painting to be done in early August.
Bouchard added that the park now has two full courts. The old ones were only one and a half court. Leftover boulders from the new playground, which was installed last year, will provide seating for people around the courts. The city also brought in LED lighting around the courts.
“That’s a new standard that we’re implementing and were able to do here,” Bouchard said. “People have been waiting a long time for these. The old courts were in pretty poor shape.”
Construction on the basketball court started in February, but the project was first identified during a master plan for Washington Park in 2011. New playgrounds and picnic spaces were also included in the plan. The city completed one new playground last year and is starting the public process for the playground on the north side of the park.
As for the old courts, the city has plans for those as well, but needs to line up construction funds first, Bouchard said.
“We had always envisioned removing the old basketball courts and adding a little picnic area,” he said.
Because of the construction boom in Denver, it has become hard for the city to find competitive pricing for projects, Bouchard added. Although Denver voters approved the 2A parks tax measure in November, Parks and Recreation already had a long list of deferred maintenance projects that some of those funds are going toward.
Denver City Council recently approved a deal to buy land in University Hills for $5 million for a new park. It was the first time the tax dollars from 2A were used. The measure adds a .25% sales tax in the City and County of Denver and is estimated to bring in $45 million per year.
One example of maintenance projects is a ditch south of the old basketball courts in Washington Park, Bouchard said. The ditch is starting to erode and the city has put some funding in place to start the design process on a project to keep that area intact.
Sometimes, the city will push project construction dates to try and find better prices.
“It’s changed on how we’re able to deliver projects,” he said. “It’s tough to get truly competitive pricing.”
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