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By Nancy Hahn

Colorado provides a wealth of sunny days and weather that encourages us all to spend time outside. In Wheat Ridge, we have a great variety of parks and recreation areas for play and relaxation. Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation was one of four Gold Medal Finalists chosen by the National Recreation and Parks Association.

Wheat Ridge has over 15 parks and recreation areas. Wheat Ridge Parks and Recreation and Director Joyce Manwaring continuously works to not only ensure that every park and recreation area is clean and in good repair, but also to update every park to keep them relevant to what residents want. For example, when it was decided to update Anderson Park, focus groups provided ideas and several concepts were developed. Later, people using the park and attending a concert were invited to look at several possible plans and provide their ideas about the plans.

Similar methods were used in developing the plans for Discovery Park and for the changes and the updating of Prospect Park. At Discovery Park, on the corner of West 38th Avenue and Kipling Street, much of the play equipment is interactive. Equipment wobbles or spins when a child climbs on it. In the summer, there are water play areas. People were interested in play equipment that resembles nature. Of course, the skate park is in continuous use by skateboarders. There are places to sit and relax, lots of green grass, and restrooms. Discovery Park even has sunscreen dispensers. How handy is that!

Prospect Park’s ball fields are being improved. There will be a new football field, two baseball fields, horseshoes, a half basketball court and new pickleball courts. Pickleball is played with paddles, and combines some of the action of badminton, tennis and ping-pong. There will be new picnic areas including a covered area. New restrooms, parking, landscaping, and improved walking and parking areas will be added.

Manwaring pointed out that dog parks are also a trend in recreation areas, and the Fruitdale Dog Park is an excellent example, appreciated by dog owners. It has separate areas for large dogs and small dogs, and seating areas ensure dogs are easily visible while they play.

Walk along the Greenbelt from Gold Panning Park in the west to Creekside Park in the east and you will pass through six separate parks. Most of the area you walk through is either park or open space. You’ll see a lot of wildlife. Right now there are a lot of water birds visiting and thinking about nesting. You’ll see stacked rocks, animal footprints, and occasionally, a rope swing over Clear Creek. Doesn’t it just make you grateful you live in Wheat Ridge?