City of Fort Collins’ Parks and Recreation Department celebrates 50 years of enhancing the community

Mackenzie Eldred

The City Fort Collins is celebrating the 50th anniversary of their Parks and Recreation Department. Since its inception in 1966, the department has made many additions to Fort Collins which have helped create this amazing community. 

“We’ve definitely had an increase in the Parks and Recreation Department over the last 50 years,” said John Litel, City of Fort Collins marketing and community relations. “We’ve added more parks, trails and a new recreation center. The recreations have evolved the community and changed the lifestyle.”

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The Fort Collins Parks and Recreation Department replaced the Recreation Commission, a non-profit charitable organization which had organized activities for the community since 1937, on January 1, 1966. 

Bob Adams, the recreation director, said 10 facilities have been introduced to the recreations since 1966, including Edora Pool Ice Center, Northside Aztlan Community Center, the Mulberry Pool, the Senior Center and more. 

“What I find most interesting is how the community supports the expansion of the parks and recreations,” Adams said. “With all the support, we were able to put in a new recreation center, and we’re are able to continue to grow in the future.” 

Adams said there are approximately 1.5 million participants who attend the recreation activities annually, and there were about 376,000 participants enrolled last year. 

In August 1978, the Northside Aztlan Community Center was opened with the first city-owned indoor gymnasium. EPIC opened to the public in 1987, and the grand opening of the senior center was held on May 2, 1976.

“Since 1966, just a little over 35 miles of paved trails have been added, with a total of 48 parks being included as well,” said Mike Calhoon, director of parks. “Of those 48 parks, six are community parks, but only five have been added since 1966. City Park was established in 1912, and we celebrated its 100th anniversary 4 years ago.”

In 1978, the finalized plans for the 25-mile recreational trail loop system to connect the Poudre River, Spring Creek and the foothills east of Horsetooth Reservoir was announced to the public. Ten miles of this trail were completed and announced on September 9, 1980.

“Another two miles of trail was added last year,” Calhoon said. 

Along with the trails and parks, two golf courses, Collindale and South Ridge, were added since 1966. On June 13, 1971, the Collindale Golf Course was opened with the first 18-hole public course in the city. In 1982, City Council approved a public/private partnership to construct South Ridge Golf Course. It was opened on July 1, 1984.

In honor of the 50th anniversary, there will be a summer concert series held on August 20 from 4-8 p.m. at Heritage Park. It costs $5 at the door or online at fcgov.com/recreation. The concert will include food and an open skate park. There will also be live concerts from Little Kids Rock, Izcalli and The Burroughs.

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Collegian Reporter Mackenzie Eldred can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @KenzieEldred.