From The Denver Post (Joe Rubino):
Local officials are anticipating the summer opening of a park along the South Platte River that will provide some fresh opportunities for a cooldown.
River Run at Oxford will be a multifaceted park and trailhead offering access to the metro area’s river, improved riparian habitat and unique recreational and educational opportunities officials hope will make it a regional draw.
The site is just west of Broken Tee Golf Course, along West Oxford Avenue on the Sheridan-Englewood border. When the first phase of the estimated $14 million project opens this summer, it will bring a rocky beach, in-water recreation features and a picnic pavilion with flush-toilet bathrooms to the east bank of the Platte, as well as improvements to ensure safer flood flow passage and a state-of-the-art sand filter for water running into the river.
“The point of this project was to engage the river for recreation but also from an ecological and function standpoint, as well as education,” said Laura Kroeger, an engineer with Urban Drainage and Flood Control Districtand manager of the River Run project.
Last week, earth movers shuffled boulders along the river bank as crews with contractor Naranjo Civil Constructors worked on a pair of drop structures that will create features for kayaking, paddleboards or inner tubes. One of the structures includes an adjustable concrete plate that can create a standing wave, a feature that Kroeger said exists only in one other place in the country, to her knowledge.
“Right now, if you want to kayak or play in the river , you would need a flow of about 1,000 (cubic feet per second) and that might only happen a few days a year,” she said of water flows required for river recreation. “With this, we can adjust the drop structure based on the release from Chatfield Reservoir to get more use. It’s designed for 200 cfs.”
River Run is about half a mile from the Oxford Avenue light-rail station and a short walk from the Englewood Recreation Center. The golf course is nearby and its parking lot has grown by 70 spaces to accommodate future River Run visitors.
Englewood has publicly accessible water at the lake at Centennial Park, but city open space manager Dave Lee said, “I think river access is the big thing we’ve never had before.”
“That’s one of the reasons people want to live in Colorado — for these unique opportunities,” added Dorothy Hargrove, Englewood’s director of parks, recreation and library.
The project continues to evolve. Kroeger said partners are pursuing funding to add safety signs as well as educational information to help teachers from area schools who could bring students to River Run to learn about riparian habitat.
River Run has two future phases: completion of a trail along the east side of the Platte, connecting it to the Big Dry Creek Trail near Union Avenue; and additional upstream flow improvements. It should conclude in 2018, Kroeger said.
Kroeger and others applauded the collaboration that went into the large-scale project. Aside from the cities and Urban Drainage, the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, the Colorado Water Conservation Board and Arapahoe County Parks and Open Space are partners.
Arapahoe County Open Spaces grants and acquisitions manager, Josh Tenneson, said that collaboration dates to 2006 when the 21-member South Platte Working Group was convened. The group has allocated more than $25 million to various projects, including recent work at Littleton’s South Platte Park and the upcoming Reynold’s Landing Park project. All told, the county has dedicated around $5 million to River Run, he said.
Sheridan recently secured a $350,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant to build a playground at the River Run trailhead. Sheridan City Manager Devin Granbery said he could see the park delighting city residents and boosting business at the city’s marquee shopping area, nearby River Point at Sheridan.
“I think it will serve as a regional draw similar to the way that (Denver’s) Confluence Parkdraws users into that area,” Granbery said. “Hopefully, after people use the amenities there, they’ll eat at a Sheridan restaurant or do some shopping.”