Behind schedule and over-budget Confluence Park set to open Saturday

Sixteen months behind schedule and more than double the original budget, Shoemaker Plaza at Confluence Park is just about finished.

KUSA - Sixteen months behind schedule and more than double the original budget, Shoemaker Plaza at Confluence Park is just about finished.

Even with the delay and hefty price tag, people who use the park are excited about the upgrades.

"It was inconvenient but it looks very nice and it will be great when it's open. But it seemed like it took a long time," said Susan Crawford, who was walking around the park with her husband Steven and her dog Zuzu on Thursday.

RELATED: Confluence Park will look like a park again soon, project manager says

The new outdoor recreation center opens Saturday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. City leaders, music and food trucks will be at the grand opening event.

Monique Madison and her Mile High Bike Tours are frequent visitors of Confluence Park.

"Every day," she said. "Even in the winter!"

Madison shows off Denver to tourists. Over the past two years when the group on bicycles would make it to the park, she said she didn't like looking at the eyesore across the river.

"It has been so ugly. It's been kind of embarrassing bringing the tours here because for a long time there wasn't even any construction going on," she explained.

Upgrades of Shoemaker Plaza started in February 2015 and came to a screeching halt when crews hit a snag, turning construction into cleanup.

"We encountered some environmental conditions we were not expecting," explained project manager Michael Bouchard.

Coal tar, a byproduct of former coal fire plants in the city, was buried in the ground. That discovery more than doubled the original budget from $4.25 million to $9.4 million.

"I'm not too happy about that," said Steven Crawford when he heard about the price tag.

But there was really no way around the costly cleanup for Denver Parks and Recreation.

"We think that's a lot now but in a few years we'll go, 'Oh, only $9 million? What a deal,'" Crawford said with a laugh.

The rebuilt Shoemaker Plaza is now ADA compliant and includes a new bike path and pedestrian walkway.

"A large part of the reconstruction effort was focused on widening the regional trail, creating better circulation between bicycles and pedestrians, and then creating a series of concrete terraces and steps that bring people down to the river with places to gather," said Bouchard.

Five new parks are planned for neighborhoods north of Confluence Park including Globeville and River North. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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