Cortez celebrated its parks on Saturday, with a little assistance from city preservation board members.
It was the city’s 8th annual Historic Preservation Day in the midst of National Historic Preservation Month, and the state’s first Public Lands Day. What better on a bright blue sky morning to be in a park, reflecting on the value of parks to the city and its residents, and unveiling a metal, waist-high map locating all of Cortez’ parks.
Dale Davidson, chairman of the Historic Preservation Board, linked the city’s parks and preservation, “from a dog park to an archaeological park.” Chris Burkett, who held the parks director’s job for 28 years beginning in 1978, told of overcoming early reluctance to park development – “a piece of cardboard makes a perfectly good base for baseball” – to create what are considered the city’s public centerpieces for its residents and visitors.
The current parks director, Dean Palmquist, praised city employees who spend hours on lawn mowers and spoke enthusiastically about the coming open space expansions adjacent to the Carpenter Natural Area. “Carpenter is a spring board for open space,” he said, with the 60 additional Greer acres plus the Evans’ lease the total open space acres is 180. For those who want more variety in sports in a city park, Palmquist reminded the group that two tennis courts would be converted on pickle ball courts. Centennial will have newly refurbished restrooms, as well, by the end of June.
Mayor Karen Sheek praised the park department’s leadership and staff for its vision and dedication and had a “thank you“ plaque for Burkett. That gave Burkett the microphone, and he delivered the stories:
Overcoming the defense of cardboard, and an early council member who said he wanted a pond in a particular park, which really did not fit. When it went dry it was not re-filled. Staff had laid the sprinkler system where the pond was to be, so it was easy to turn the location into grass.
Parks are a treasure which are used in so many different ways, as a place to bring people together, a place to get a little exercise or just to look at and enjoy. They require planning, good management and commitment and, when done well, are a precious community asset.
Cortez’ leadership has had the foresight and determination to do all of the above. As a result, Cortez is a better place to live and visit.
Stop by the Welcome Center to look at the new city park map.