Here’s a brief history of FANS from the group’s original non-profit (5013c) designation application:
Friends and Neighbors of Washington Park Inc.
The Friends and Neighbors (FANS) of Washington Park Inc. is a grass root effort to help support and preserve our park, a vital resource to our community and the city, Denver Colorado. It was organized to give a public voice to Washington Park in the care, use and maintenance of the park space. Washington Park is a 165 acre park and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by the landscape architect Reinhard Schuetze and began its development in 1904 and generally was completed in the late 1920’s. Other landscape architects, architects and artists helped in implementing his design. Included in these professionals are S.R. DeBore, the Olmsted Brothers from Brookline Massachusetts, J .J .B. Benedict and others. FANS has used Washington Park: Cultural Landscape Assessment and Preservation Plan funded by a grant from the Colorado Historical Society’s State Historical Fund as a guide in planning projects for the preservation and restoration of the park.
The ﬁrst FANS meeting was held January 26, 2006 in the Washington Park Recreation Center with ten people present. Those present had a desire to ﬁnd a personal way to give back to the park for all the enjoyment and beneﬁt they had received from the park. The Denver City Budget for the park system is insufficient to meet the all needs for maintenance, preservation and restoration. Some programs in the park have been dropped due to lack of funds and personnel. Following that ﬁrst meeting, FANS has met monthly, excluding Dec, and the membership has grown to over l00 with no paid personnel. The FANS mission is to act as stewards of Washington Park. In the two years since it was created FANS has created bylaws, participated in several service projects, and sponsored several community events using FAN volunteers. FANS are and have been active in supporting the staff that maintains the park and promoting a positive and respectful use of the park. The ﬁrst FAN activity was in April 2006. FANS participated in the spring cleaning of a segment of City Ditch in Washington Park. City Ditch is an irrigation ditch listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a Denver Landmark Historic District. FAN volunteers worked with park maintenance to help maintain this historic ditch in the park. It was a one day event and eight FAN members participated.
In May 2006 FANS volunteers helped to paint the Boathouse, a Denver Landmark Structure for Preservation and a contributing feature to the Denver Parks and Parkway National Register of Historic Places listing. In October 2006 FANS volunteered in the city’s project of “Putting the Beds to Bed”, turning the ﬂower gardens over and readying for winter. These three events focused on the maintenance of our public park and supporting the city employees that work in the park.
Due to lack of city funding many areas in Washington Park are in need of maintenance, restoration and preservation. One of the areas in Washington Park is the Rock and Water Garden. Beginning July 2006 FANS members voted to work on its ﬁrst major project, to renovate the Rock and Water Garden, a small area of the park near the Lily Pond. Three FANS members did research in the Denver Public Library for past drawings and plans and a FANS member who is a landscape architect developed landscape drawings for the renovation from the research and with input from FANS members and a city park planner. FAN members made presentations to the Denver Parks and Recreation Department and to the Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board October 2007. A public presentation and hearing was held in January 2008. All the work and presentations were by FANS members. The city Parks and Recreations Department manager approved the FANS to continue to implement the Rock and Water Garden project. An estimated cost of the project is $150,000. Starting in February 2008 FANS began the necessary steps to apply for a 501 (c ) 3 status. Once the FANS obtain a 501 (c) (3) exemption they will begin the fund raising efforts which include soliciting donations from users and neighbors of the park, ﬁom businesses and applying for grants. The goal of the FANS is to raise the money and complete this project by 2010. In the future the FANS will select other projects for the park for restoration and will continue to need to raise money from the community and businesses to complete them. Activities FANS have worked on include a Youth Fishing Derby. FANS members organized and co sponsored with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Denver Parks Recreation Department and a local reality group the Youth Fishing Derby, June 3, 2007, in the park. 50 youth with parents or guardians attended sessions and learned about habitat and ﬁsh in the ponds and lakes and the technique of ﬁshing before they began ﬁshing. This project reinstated an event that was held annually but had to be eliminated because of lack of park funds and personnel. It provided education and appreciation of the park’s fauna and ﬂora while engaging in a fun activity. This addresses the stewardship of the park and the education of its users. FANS members also organized and sponsored an Employee Appreciation Breakfast for the park maintenance personnel on September 2007. This was to acknowledge the work of the park employees and maintain good relations between the park employees and the users of the park.
In 2008 FANS continued the Youth Fishing Derby, June 5 and plans for an Employee Appreciation Breakfast on September 3rd. A new event for 2008 was The Spring Safety Fair and Bicycle Rodeo in April. FANS organized the event with Denver Parks and Recreation Department and Denver Police Department. Tension in the park rises each spring/summer as users of the park ignore park rules. The purpose of the event is to share the rules of the road in the park and hopefully to reduce the tension among the varied users of the park. The education, etiquette and enforcement of rules for park users is a goal of the FANS. Again it is part of the stewardship of the park and preservation of a positive atmosphere in the park.
These activities have been done with FANS volunteer time and with in-kind support from city and state government organizations. Five to ten FAN volunteers FANS would like to be able to raise money to expand these events to include more participants and increase awareness of the appropriate use of the park and appreciation of the park. After the Rock and Water Garden project is completed, there are many other restoration projects needing funding. FANS will be participating in 2009 on the master plan for Washington Park. Looking at other Denver parks and their master plan, FANS is aware the implementation of master plans is delayed due to lack of funds. FANS will be using the Washington Park Master Plan as well as the Washington Park: Cultural Landscape and Assessment Plan to identify future projects and raise the money to implement them.