Dinosaur Park slated for improvements

Parks department says intent is to keep the dinosaur feature

Shanna Fortier
Special to the Washington Park Profile
Posted 1/8/20

The process has started to redesign Robert H. McWilliams Park, better known to locals as Dinosaur Park. Updates will include improvements to the playground, basketball courts, picnic area and parking …

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Dinosaur Park slated for improvements

Parks department says intent is to keep the dinosaur feature

Posted

The process has started to redesign Robert H. McWilliams Park, better known to locals as Dinosaur Park.

Updates will include improvements to the playground, basketball courts, picnic area and parking access.

“I think what we’ll end up with is a park that better serves the community,” said Paul Kashmann, councilmember for Denver’s District 6 which includes the park.

One aspect of the redesign that has gotten people’s attention is the possible removal of the purple dinosaur that the park in nicknamed for.

But project manager Chris Schooler said removing the dinosaur is not the intent.

“Everybody refers to the park as Dinosaur Park, so it’s our intent to keep that character intact,” Schooler said. “We are looking at ways to incorporate the dinosaur in the new design.”

The problem, Schooler said, is that there are current safety standards that need to be met. Since the dinosaur was installed in the 1960s, it needs to be inspected for safety. Keeping the dinosaur in the design may include replacing it or updating it to meet safety standards.

“We want it to still be known as Dinosaur Park,” Schooler said.

There has been one public meeting about the project and much community input through emails. The number one talked-about memory of the park was the dinosaur.

Councilmember Kendra Black has shared memories of playing at the park as a child in addition to her children playing there more recently.

One community member, Margaret Stookesberry, shared a memory of her daughter, Mari, who one night painted the dinosaur — which was green at the time — with purple paint one June night with her friends.

The dinosaur was soon repainted green and stayed for a year. Mari died in a car accident in 1989. At her memorial service, the purple paint incident was mentioned by a speaker and a collective murmur went through the congregation, Stookesberry said.

“From then on, every time the parks department repainted the dino, friends and family made sure to take a purple paint pen and apply a few small spots to the nose,” Stookesberry recalled. “A lawyer friend was just waiting for the day he needed to defend me in court. Eventually, the parks department changed to purple paint.”

Funding for the renovation project is part of the Elevate Denver Bond Program, a 10-year, $937 million general obligation bond approved by voters in 2017 to enhance the city and county of Denver by providing critical citywide improvements to the infrastructure that defines Denver. Of that, nearly $152 million is slated for parks and recreation projects.

The redesign is still in the early phases. Schooler estimates that construction will begin in the spring of 2021.

The next community meeting is scheduled for February.

For updates on the time, date and location, visit  https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-parks-and-recreation/planning/park-facility-projects.html.

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