For the past two years, Confluence Park — at the convergence of Cherry Creek and South Platte River — has been a mess.
A project designed to make the Central Platte Valley park compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act started in 2015 but stalled with the discovery of coal tar buried in the river’s west bank. A year-long cleanup process more than doubled its budget to $9.4 million.
During that time, pedestrians and bicyclists have had curtailed access to the park and the trails along the waterways.
Many of those obstacles were gone this week, just ahead of a ceremonial reopening of the park planned for Saturday. Work crews on Thursday were putting the finishing touches on the centerpiece of the project, the overhauled Shoemaker Plaza, a renovated promenade with improved river access.
“We dealt with containing and disposing of the small portion we did find. The soil on site is clean and contaminate-free,” said Michael Bouchard, assistant director for design and construction for Denver Parks and Recreation.”This is the birthplace of Denver and a very important park for the city. I’m really proud we worked through the coal issue that could have sunk a project.”
Gone are the plaza’s complicated zigzag ramps. Although it doesn’t look tremendously different from its original design, the renovations offer greater and safer access to the water and separate, wider pedestrian and bike access to the trail.
“When you think about some of the things that used to be in this platte and what we used to do to it, it’s a shame,” Mayor Michael Hancock said Thursday during a onsite briefing. “As the city grew, we let the river’s health decline. It has taken a lot of work and resources over the years to reverse the damage that has been…