Celebration and ribbon cutting mark official opening of downtown Sterling’s Heritage Park – Sterling Journal-Advocate
The city of Sterling opened what City Manager Kevin Blankenship called “another beautiful park in the city” on Friday as it held a ribbon cutting at Heritage Park.
After opening the celebration with entertainment provided by Dennis Fuller and refreshments from the city as well as the Hot Spot Smokehouse and Italian restaurant Sam and Louie, Blankenship greeted the crowd by explaining the story behind the park.
Alan and Cindy Hoal brought the idea of developing the corner lot of Fourth and Main streets into an urban park to the city in 2019 and offered to donate the land. They also asked that space be made in the park to recognize major contributors to the Sterling Community Fund.
The city was able to work with the Colorado Center for Community Development to bring in a grad student from UC-Denver to develop design concepts for the space and then sought public input to develop the plan for the park. The city then contracted with Farnsworth Group to develop the construction documents.
Construction of the park was jointly funded by the city, the Sterling Community Fund, the Sterling Urban Renewal Authority (SURA) and the Citizens Advisory Board (CAB), which oversees hotel tax funds collected by the city.
Blankenship noted the park’s featured elements, including a small stage, colorful concrete ribbons representing the South Platte River, a fire pit, shade structure, and handcrafted benches.
“The park is a tribute to our community’s past, present and future,” Blankenship said.
The city manager thanked those who donated “their time, talent and materials to help alleviate the cost of construction:” Alan and Cindy Hoal, Rob Kircher of Cornerstone Construction, Tom Kiel of Better Electric, JD Stone of Industrial Welding, Rob Nichols of Nichols Tillage Tools, Jeff Japp of Japp Masonry, Rob Egbert of Egbert Sprinkling Systems and Precision Homes of Colorado, and all donors who have contributed to the project.
Blankenship also noted the artwork created by local artists that resides in the park, including the Pedal of the Plains mural by Steve Parrish, a historical map of the Logan County Railroad by Nate Laybourn and Triune , a bronze sculpture by Bradford Rhea which is expected to be installed in early 2023. A model of the sculpture was displayed during the celebration to give guests an idea of what it will look like.
Sterling Mayor Brenda Desormeaux led speeches from representatives of each of the funding agencies, highlighting improvements to the downtown area.
“When you’re driving Main Street during the day, parking is a priority. Not too long ago the streets were pretty bare,” she said. “Thanks to the work of many groups and businesses, the environment is changing for the better.”
She said Heritage Park provides a “new look” to its part of downtown and hopefully attracts more people to the downtown area.
Desormeaux also thanked the Hoals, the Sterling Community Fund and the many people who helped develop the park.
“We look forward to seeing many citizens of Sterling and visitors to our community enjoy this great outdoor space,” she said.
Steve Meier spoke on behalf of the Sterling Community Fund, thanking the city for the opportunity to be part of the project and allowing people to donate to the park through the community fund. He also thanked those who helped make the park a reality, including “over 400 individuals and businesses who donated to the Sterling Community Fund to create this community endowment which will be an everlasting fund that will help support projects that make Sterling and Logan County a more attractive place to live, raise a family, start a business and retire.
Meier took a moment to promote the Sterling Community Fund’s fourth and final fundraising gala, to be held Sept. 10 at the Logan County Fairgrounds, and encouraged guests at the celebration to consider contributing to the Sterling Community Fund” and to forever impact Sterling and Logan County.
CAB member Alex Wright said the park served as an example of “exactly the kind of thing we were looking for” when developers originally crafted the hotel tax proposal to fund beautification projects in Sterling.
“This is a fantastic project that we are honored in part,” Wright said, noting that ACR has also earmarked funds for the Front Street project and Main Street intersection improvements. He added that the advisory board has other projects underway.
Matt Johnson spoke on behalf of SURA, noting the revival of the city center over the past 10 to 15 years thanks in part to SURA grants which aim to “revitalize slums and degraded conditions”. He said SURA had awarded more than 50 grants to sterling companies.
Heritage Park, part of the SURA Downtown District, “is a landmark project that further enhances our beautiful downtown.”
In his closing comments, Blankenship noted that Sterling’s parks were a big part of what drew him to the community when interviewing for the position of city manager, and Heritage Park is a welcome addition to those amenities.
He thanked everyone who attended the celebration for showing their support for the project.
“It’s something we can all cherish and appreciate, and I hope this park gets a lot of use,” he said.
The event ended with Desormeaux cutting the ribbon for the official opening of the park.