At Uplands, we understand that close-to-home parks improve any community’s quality of life. Whether seeking fresh air, exercise, or a place to unwind and take in the scenery and views, people love parks.
Research shows that people who regularly use parks get more and better exercise than people who don’t. When it comes to a community’s health and well-being, parks are widely recognized as critical, reducing anxiety, stress and depression and improving physical health. Between sunshine, fresh air, exercise and access to green spaces, parks undoubtedly have a positive effect on our physical health and emotional well-being.
Beyond being a space for individuals and families to enjoy some physical activity, parks can also serve as a hub for community commotion, a meeting place for friends and neighbors, and the scene for celebrations and events. From the ability to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and improved mental health and well-being to the creation of a connection with the natural world and the local community, parks provide numerous benefits to nearby residents.
Currently, 100 million Americans — almost one in three people (including 28 million children) — do not have a park within a 10-minute walk of home. In fact, the national average of residents who live within a 10-minute walk of a park is just 55%. Most large cities set a “how close is close enough” standard for parks, defining “close” as within a half-mile. And even though walking speeds vary from person to person, the Department of Transportation agrees that most people can walk a half-mile in about 10 minutes.
As we all know, there’s a significant difference between a park down the street and one across town. When it comes to getting a quick sweat in before work, having a lunch picnic or letting your older kids go play on their own, closeness and convenience are key.
Parks in Westminster
According to The Trust For Public Land, southern Westminter is in high need of a park within a 10-minute walk (or ½ mile). While Westminster as a whole has more than 100 parks, just 86% of residents live within a 10-minute walk of one of those parks.
In the southern part of the city alone, 1,300 residents inhabit areas that fall under The Trust for Public Lands’ “high need” category. As a matter of fact, residents living in the areas to the north, east and west (including those who reside in the Shaw Heights neighborhood) of Uplands are currently in a “high” to “very high” priority area. For example, while Camenisch Park and Hyland Hills Park in the existing condition map are within ½ mile of some of the eastern portions of the Uplands community, people living in those areas are still part of the high-priority group since those parks remain difficult to access using strictly public roads and pathways.
Uplands Parks and Public Spaces
By dedicating 34 acres of land to the city for parks, preserving 6 acres for the best views and providing access to an additional 7 acres of pocket parks, the Uplands development will fulfill a long-held community desire for more parks close by.
“Uplands is a mixed-use community, which means an amenity-rich neighborhood that is built with walkability in mind,” said Bonnie Niziolek, LEED-accredited professional and principal at Norris Design. “To accomplish this vision, we have designed an inviting network of sidewalks and trails to connect people to parks and public gathering spaces — both within and around Uplands, in addition to local retail shops and restaurants.”
Part of the Uplands vision includes ensuring that 20% of all the developable land within the community will be parks and public spaces. Many of those parks and public spaces will bring convenience to our neighbors and other residents of Westminster.
Consider the park planned at the northwest corner of the main parcel, directly adjacent to the Shaw Heights neighborhood. Shaw Heights was constructed decades ago — without very many parks — leaving residents no nearby place to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle through outdoor recreation. When this park is built, individuals and families living in Shaw Heights will finally have a large park within walking distance of their homes.
Another feature of Uplands’ park and trail system design is based on the location — and current lack of access to — the Hyland Hills Park and Sports Complex, which includes batting cages, three ball fields, a playground and a skate park. Right now, Hyland Hills Sports Complex is a large, underutilized amenity, but the design of Uplands’ trail/sidewalk network will ensure improved walking and biking access to this 150-acre outdoor asset.
From the very first discussion we had with residents and neighbors, we learned about the importance of maintaining the views in two of parcels (B and D), which are unlike anywhere else in the metro area. Whether watching the sun set behind the Rocky Mountains to the west or soaking in the Mile High City’s skyline, residents will still be able to enjoy incredible views from Uplands. Six acres will be dedicated to the city to ensure preservation and access to these treasured spaces.
By moving 1,300 residents out of TPL’s “high” need area, Uplands is helping remediate southern Westminster’s lack of parks and creating community spaces that both stimulate improved health and wellness and encourage community connection. Thanks to Uplands, residents of Westminster will have access to 47 acres of publicly accessible parks, view corridors and pedestrian walkways at this site for the first time in 100 years.