Valerian received the APA Colorado Honors award for public engagement and the 2021 APA conference. Thank you to everyone involved who made this a successful project and a successful demonstration of public engagement.
The vision for the renovation of St. Charles Place Park began as a means to connect two adjoining properties in the Cole neighborhood: a new office sharing development and the St. Charles Recreation Center, an established cornerstone in the community. Neighborhood kids that visit the recreation center think of it as their second home. It saves many from gangs, crime, and drugs but with the lack of safe outdoor play space, they rarely used the adjacent park. Working together, both properties envisioned improvements for the park and remained steadfastly committed to putting the voice of the community first by engaging local high school students as the St. Charles Ambassadors. The ambassadors were youth leaders from the recreation center, selected to be mentored through the complete re-design of their park to revive the green space and create safe, active areas. The ambassadors are at the heart of breathing new life to this Denver Park and after five years of planning, design and construction, this neighborhood amenity is complete. The park now includes nature play areas, fitness equipment, a large open green, accessible sidewalks and building entry, an ambassador mural, new parking lot, trails, an updated irrigation system and a colorful mixture of plantings.