Designs for a new nature center in northern El Paso County might be full subsequent yr, one of many subsequent steps in long-awaited plans to deliver community-based programming to a quickly rising space of the county, in line with parks officers.
Population progress and neighborhood curiosity spurred the thought to develop a new nature center in 2013. The county recognized the mission as certainly one of its aims in its 2013 Parks Master Plan and in its 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, El Paso County Community Services Executive Director Todd Marts stated.
A feasibility examine accomplished in December 2019 by Altitude Land Consultants, with structure agency Tremmel Design Group, really useful Fox Run Regional Park as the situation for the longer term northern nature center.
The space “is quickly rising and I believe parks like Fox Run and the nature center will actually be a treasure to that neighborhood,” Marts stated.
He hopes the northern El Paso County neighborhood will embrace the brand new center simply as the communities across the different two nature facilities — Bear Creek in southwestern Colorado Springs and Fountain Creek in Fountain — have carried out.
“So that would be the focus, attempting to broaden that neighborhood perspective in northern El Paso County,” Marts stated.
Exact programming on the proposed northern nature center is not identified but, however officers will develop it utilizing the “very profitable programming mannequin of over 30 years at Bear Creek and Fountain nature facilities,” he stated.
When accomplished, Marts expects faculties to take subject journeys to the brand new facility and that a collection of out of doors occasions can be placed on all year long.
He additionally envisions the construction as a “hub” for neighborhood conferences and tourism, because it’s nearer to Castle Rock in southern Douglas County. After all, he stated, Bear Creek and Fountain Creek nature facilities are secondary vacationer places in El Paso County.
“People go to see Garden of the Gods and our museums, and if they’ve extra time (the nature facilities are) free locations to go. I see this one up in Fox Run as sort of a quiet spot in a busy place, so individuals can go there to loosen up and benefit from the outdoor,” Marts stated.
Architects with Tremmel Design Group are engaged on “a complete design” they hope to complete subsequent yr. After that, El Paso County will have interaction in “a complete collection of public course of” so residents can present their suggestions on the plans.
“It’s not simply the constructing, however we’re taking a look at the way it matches into the situation, how the displays will match in and the way it can serve a broad neighborhood,” Marts stated.
But funding the mission has been a problem through the years, he stated.
It may value about $3.5 million, primarily based on discussions with the architect and the finished feasibility examine — however that quantity may change due to the rising value of building and supplies.
“Everything we’re doing is simply coming in at a lot greater than we might anticipated and even skilled estimates that we have been getting,” Marts stated.
But the place there’s a will, there’s a manner.
Fundraisers hosted by the nonprofit Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers, as nicely as personal donors, have donated no less than $1 million to the mission.
El Paso County commissioners may additionally approve allocating a further $1 million particularly for the northern nature center mission in the county’s 2023 spending plan. Commissioners are anticipated to approve subsequent yr’s funds on Dec. 6.
Other fundraisers are deliberate, Marts stated.
Marts emphasised that the design and building course of will embody public engagement.
“We can be reaching out (to the neighborhood) for their enter on how will we make this a nature center for everybody? We are wanting for modern and distinctive concepts … however we additionally need to be a good neighbor and match into the environment,” he stated.
“We know the nature center goes to be in a well-loved park and we need to decrease the influence of that.”
People who wish to donate financially to the mission can contact Marts at 719-520-6399 or firstname.lastname@example.org.