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May 29, 2014 The South Platte Working Group is working with the Riverside Downs shopping center to beautify the open space between the shopping complex and the South Platte River. Photo by Jennifer Smith

SPWG explores development on river Trail improvements, benches, amphitheater considered By Jennifer Smith

jsmith@coloradocommunitymedia.com The South Platte Working Group is hoping its first public-private partnership will offer a boost to Riverside Downs shopping complex, on Belleview Avenue just west of Santa Fe Drive, and beautify the entire area. “We’re looking at how to start to create this new environment by the river,” said Councilmember Debbie Brinkman, Littleton City Council’s representative on SPWG. Council on May 20 unanimously approved dedicated open-space funds to complete a study that would define how to better tie the center into the Mary Carter Greenway and the South Platte River, widely regarded as underutilized assets in Littleton — something the SPWG has been working to change. “(Our goal) is to embrace many types of adjacent land uses and recognize that the community’s historic relationship to the Platte River is part of the history of this river and part of richness of the visitor’s experience,” reads the 56-page report the group released in March. “The diversity of experience and expression of the community’s evolving relationship with the Platte River

is to be celebrated, not homogenized.” Convened in 2006 by Arapahoe County, SPWG is made up of 21 local jurisdictions and agencies that have contributed more than $25 million for projects so far. Members hope the county will agree to partner with Littleton to work on the public land that lies south of Riverside Downs, which would pay for improvements on its own property. “We want to bring walkers, bike riders and shoppers together and give them safe places to go,” said Brinkman. A concept by OHM Design depicts a small amphitheater facing the river on the south end of the shopping complex. Footpaths would lead from there to the river, and the area between might have shade structures, bocce ball, stone benches, public art and a cobble beach where people could dangle their toes in the water. Brinkman noted it’s already a common sight to see people parking in the lot and heading out for a walk or bike ride from there. “People want to access the trail,” said Brinkman. “We already know we don’t have enough trailheads, and now people are starting to create their own.” Access to Belleview Avenue would be improved, and a gateway feature would be added there, said Brinkman. If all goes well, construction could start next fall.

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