If downtown Colorado Springs had a backyard, it would most assuredly be Monument Valley Park. The park begins at Bijou Street, meandering for two miles along Monument Creek and ending just beyond Monroe Street. Divided by Uintah Street into northern and southern "halves," it offers hiking, biking, running and walking trails of varied terrain. Visitors will also find a variety of sports fields, playgrounds, ponds, a swimming pool, wildlife, pavilions and beautiful historic stonework from the park's original development and the WPA era.
It's a special place within the city, and Friends of Monument Valley Park — an all-volunteer organization made up of more than 225 members dedicated to the restoration and care of the park — aims to keep it that way.
As part of the effort, the organization has embarked upon a mission to repair the park's stonework structures. There are close to 40 different features, many dating to 1907 when the park was given to Colorado Springs by city founder General William Palmer.
"Over the years, the city has not had the money to maintain the historic stonework," board president Teri Peisner explains. "We decided, as part of our preservation effort, that we wanted to repair the stonework and keep a link to the history of the park."
"The park was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007," adds board secretary Judi Ingelido. "That's a real motivator to preserve this historic stonework."
The most recent major repair project was the "geologic column," which illustrates the rock formations found between Ute Pass and Austin Bluffs, and is located in the northern end of the park. It was completed in October 2014. "We were able to repair the column because of a State Historical Fund Grant and matching funds from the community," says Peisner.
Friends of Monument Valley Park has already selected the next structure for restoration, the 400-foot-long Columbia Street entrance. Its pending grant application with the National Historical Fund will again require matching donations.
And while historic preservation and cosmetic repair are certainly goals for each feature, the Columbia Street project highlights an altogether different issue — safety.
"The walls are in imminent danger of collapse," says Peisner. "Our engineer really feels that they pose a threat to the public's safety." Ingelido likens the entrance to the Tower of Pisa, noting it's positioned directly above a pedestrian walkway. If funding is secured, FMVP hopes to begin work as soon as possible.
In the meantime, the organization will continue its other work within the park. Volunteers offer nature walks and bird watching in the warmer months, as well as Musical Mondays in the Park, held on the lawn near the Fine Arts Center. They also organize park cleanups and have helped to replace plants and trees. Peisner and Ingelido hope to help members of the community recognize and care for the space and recognize its value to the city.
"This really is our Central Park," says Peisner, "and we need to care for it and create that culture of care for it."
The 2015 Give! Campaign features 88 area nonprofits. To learn more, volunteer or donate, visit indygive.com before midnight on Dec. 31.