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DENVER — Big changes are in the works for Denver's iconic Sloan's Lake Park thanks to explosive growth in the area.
Denver Parks and Recreation is adding a new trail due to overcrowding on the existing trail.
“A soft-surface running trail was always part of that master plan,” said Larry Ambrose, the current vice president of the Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association.
When Ambrose moved to the Sloan’s Lake area, he had no idea what it would grow to look like.
"I guess we didn't quite understand the extent of change that was coming," he said.
Cranes now pepper the skyline just south of the lake at the old St. Anthony's hospital site. New condos, apartments and retail — all coming soon.
"I feel like we need a little more space,” said Rick Van Ackeren, who walks his dog around the lake a few days a week. “It’s crowded between bikers, runners, walkers, dogs."
He said he enjoys the walk because of the mountain views from the east side of the lake.
Due to the growth, Denver Parks and Recreation is now planning a new 4-foot wide soft-surface crusher stone trail alongside the existing 8-foot wide hard surface.
The goal? Spread out users.
"It will take some of the pressure off the walking trail," Ambrose said.
But Ambrose and other neighbors initially pushed back against the plan because of the possibility it would require the removal about 40 existing trees to accommodate the new trail.
"Yeah, perfectly healthy trees,” Ambrose said. "Some of these trees are close to a 100 years old, if not over 100 years old."
The city said that was a miscommunication and tearing out trees was never part of the plan.
"We respect the value of trees as much or more than anybody," said Gordon Robertson, director of park planning, design and construction for Denver Parks and Recreation.
The soft-surface crushed stone trail now has the green light from the neighborhood association.
Denver Parks and Rec will start construction this fall, which will be partially paid for by one of the developers here.
"With that impact, we thought there ought to be some investment by the developer into an improvement in the park," Robertson said.
Ambrose said this is a good change.
“We can't knock a soft surface running trail," he said.