Several members of the Cortez city government spent the first Colorado Public Lands Day celebrating the town’s own public lands legacy.
The historic preservation board held its annual Historic Preservation Day celebration on Saturday, and this year the theme was “Cortez: City of Parks.” Parks and recreation director Dean Palmquist honored a few people who have contributed to the town parks, including one of his predecessors, Chris Burkett. He and Mayor Karen Sheek unveiled a new plaque in City Park that shows all the public recreation spots in Cortez.
Historic preservation chairman Dale Davidson said he believed Public Lands Day would be the best time to hold the celebration this year.
“It’s odd to celebrate, maybe, the importance of our parks as a way to observe historic preservation, but I think that our parks do preserve the history of Cortez by maintaining the historic landscape of our town,” he said.
Burkett, who served as the parks and recreation director from 1978 to 2006, talked about how he and the rest of the staff helped turn several unoccupied pieces of land into new parks, even adding a pond to Parque de Vida and paving the way for the recreation center. He said that when he started, the town only had two or three parks without many amenities. Today there are more than a dozen parks in Cortez, ranging from pocket parks tHawkins Preserve.
“How many communities of our size have about 100 acres right in the middle of town that is very easily accessible to everyone in the community?” Burkett said.
Palmquist and Sheek presented Burkett with an award for his work on city parks. They also had an award for Mark Boblitt, who has worked as the parks maintenance superintendent for 36 years, but he wasn’t able to attend the ceremony.
The event wrapped up with the unveiling of a prototype for a City Park plaque that maps all the parks in Cortez. Cortez-based company Reflections in Metal is working on a permanent version, Sheek said.