River Sisters in Denver
Through its River Sisters efforts, El Laboratorio helped establish and currently supports the River Sisters Circle (formerly River Sister Advisory Committee) in its efforts to create a “Turquoise Necklace” of open space in Denver, with a major river park as a pendant of that necklace.
Work outlined in 2018 MOU
Guidance for the work in Denver comes from this wording of a 2018 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The City of Denver, in collaboration with AFC+A [a MOU signatory], evaluates the viability of developing a sister park to the Colorado River Greenway … that recognizes the contribution of Latinos, and Mexicans in particular, to the culture and identity of Denver; and celebrates the hydrological and economic contributions of Colorado as a headwater state to the Colorado River Basin region.
The Denver Riverside Park as a “Sister Park“
Since 2019 El Laboratorio has supported work on such a “sister park” in Denver, initially with the City and County of Denver’s Department of Parks and Recreation and more recently with Denver Housing Authority. Work with Denver Parks and Recreation led to identifying a park site in the Sun Valley neighborhood, adjacent to the South Platte River and within an area undergoing urban renewal.
Park being designed
Currently Denver Housing Authority is developing designs for the riverside park and the River Sisters Circle and El Laboratorio are participating in the process (see early illustration below).
The Sun Valley riverfront park will be an 11-acre regional park running the length of the South Platte River. It’s design will seek to create a safe space the celebrates the diversity of the neighborhood, promotes physical activity and healthy eating, provides spaces for mental restoration, and ensures all Sun Valley residents have access to quality open space. The River Sisters Circle is giving input to ensure that the goals of the 2018 MOU are reflected in the design.
More than just a single park: A Turquoise Necklace
At a 2019 meeting with Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock, the River Sisters partners announced a River Sisters vision larger than just a single park along the South Platte River. They envisioned the planned park as a “pendant” or focal point of a larger system of open space and trails along the river that more comprehensively presents “the contribution of Latinos, and Mexicans in particular, to the culture and identity of Denver; and celebrates the hydrological and economic contributions of Colorado as a headwater state to the Colorado River Basin region” (MOU 2018). Because of the way it would link cultural and resource areas all along the river, this larger system is referred to as a “Turquoise Necklace” for Denver.