By Sara Kay Martin
The Heron Pond reclamation project is in its second phase of a two-year cleanup effort to create green space in the city. Made up of three natural spaces — Heron Pond, Heller Open Spaces and Carpio Sanguinette Park — construction on this 80 acres of park and natural land started in June 2022.
Since the beginning of the year, construction has been focused on the excavation of a water quality basin, which helps capture stormwater. The detention area for the water will filter out any possible pollutants flowing from the north and west before it reaches Heron Pond and the South Platte River.
“This facility will be dry most of the time, but will be lined with natural grasses, so when it rains, the stormwater flows through the natural grasses, filtering out impurities and sediments that can pollute our urban watersheds,” said Nancy Kuhn, the director of communications for the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI).
This second phase of construction is estimated to cost the city $20 million, with additional construction for creating park trails and a nature outlook. Heron Pond and the land surrounding it has long been a topic of discussion and concern of Globeville and Denver residents.
Historically, the area has been industrialized and subjected to chemical waste and toxic stormwater runoff from surrounding work yards. In 2017, stakeholders from the city project management team formed a committee consisting of active community members, outdoor- focused organizations and various other members to provide feedback and concerns for the 80-acre plan.
“We also removed and tested soil per the materials management plan for our project that was approved by Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) and found very little contamination of the soil or groundwater,” Kuhn said. “The materials management plan stated that any soils that did not meet state and federal requirements for soil quality would be removed and disposed of at a regulated landfill.”
Kuhn also said that there had already been previous contamination cleanup efforts before the city started. Establishing a healthy space for communities to enjoy the outdoors can present a challenge for a city like Denver, which is mostly developed and has seen population growth.
According to the city, Denver is ready to take a comprehensive approach to increase green space amenities within the neighborhood of Globeville.
With the projected timeline of the detention and water quality basin expected to be completed sometime this fall, the city will then move into a plan for more park improvements and upgrades. The park improvement portion will go out to bid in the fall and then construction will either begin in the winter or spring.
“This project is going to have significant, positive impacts on our natural environment and improve wildlife habitat,” said Kuhn.
According to her, the city has heard from the local birding community, and they are excited about the potential for this project to attract more birds.
Playgrounds, park trails, artwork, gardens, pavilions and a BMX track are a few features residents can look forward to seeing in the reformed space once completed in 2024.