Denver's Cheesman Park Fountains to be Fully Operational This Summer | Westword

Cheesman Park Fountains Will Be Fully Operational This Summer

For the first time since 2019, all three fountains in front of the pavilion will operate through the summer.
A meter to monitor water usage will be installed, with plans to make adjust if the fountains are using too much water this summer.
A meter to monitor water usage will be installed, with plans to make adjust if the fountains are using too much water this summer. Catie Cheshire

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For the first time since 2019, the three fountains in Denver’s Cheesman Park will be fully operational all summer.

The Denver Department of Parks & Recreation turned the fountains off for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has only run them intermittently since. According to the department, they need repairs to get fully up to speed.

“Given their significance in this historical park, it was decided that the fountains would be repaired,” says Yolanda Quesada, marketing and communications director for Parks & Rec. “Construction to repair the fountains is currently underway and is anticipated to go through early summer.”

Repairs will fix the fountain basins, replace interior plumbing and install updated operational controls for the three fountains, which sit directly west of the historic pavilion near the Denver Botanic Gardens, at the eastern edge of the park.

The fountains and pavilion are part of the larger area called the Cheesman Memorial, according to the 2008 Park Master Plan developed for Cheesman Park, the first coordinating planning conducted for the historical park since its design was completed in 1902.

This summer, the fountains will become part of the fun at the city-center oasis, where hundreds of people venture each day to play sports, take walks or lie in the sun.

“In general, we aim to have fountains operational by Memorial Day weekend, and they run through Labor Day weekend,” Quesada says.

Fountain restoration comes at the expense of a different idea. Resident and musician Jahmila AaronAli, who performs under the name Tripl3Thr33, started a petition to transform at least one of the fountains into a roller skating rink. The petition has just over 100 signatures.
click to enlarge Empty fountains at park in Denver
After shutting down during the pandemic and operating on a limited basis, the three fountains at Cheesman Park will be fully operational all summer.
Catie Cheshire
“Making one of them into a roller skating rink would not be too expensive, and I honestly do not think it would be too hard, either,” AaronAli says, adding that the only changes needed would be ensuring that the pavement is smooth and adopting rules allowing roller skating there. Although skating is not currently allowed on the pavilion because of its historic designation, people regularly skate there.

A lifelong Denver resident, AaronAli moved to the neighborhood last year and loves the energy at Cheesman. Seeing other people roller skating in the park around the fountains makes her want a dedicated place for that form of self-expression to thrive.

“With parks, we should be providing accessibility to our community and ways of inviting people to want to come out and be outdoors and do cool activities,” she says. “Roller skating, for sure, is one of those things that can bring people together.”

The 2008 master plan identified four goals to evaluate potential projects at the park: Restore Cheesman Park’s legacy through historic preservation; create a safe and enjoyable park experience for all users; create an accessible park with a pedestrian focus; and reduce crime, vehicular volume and speed, noise and pollution.

AaronAli spoke at Denver City Council meetings, created the petition and tried to talk with the parks department to express how turning a fountain into a roller skating rink would improve the park. However, the city ultimately decided that restoring the fountains fits the goals of the park better, particularly the directive to prioritize historic preservation.

The city doesn’t have a reliable prediction for the fountain's water usage, according to Quesada. However, a water meter to monitor usage will be installed, and there are plans to make adjustments if the fountains are using too much.

“The first year will help set the baseline,” Quesada explains. “We don’t know what the new fountain equipment will use, flow, etc., until it is finished and operational.”

Either way, prepare to splash down this summer.
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