Denverites have spoken – “We want trees!”
The Outdoor Downtown Plan is focused on investment in our public realm, making Denver a world-class destination, fostering a diverse and livable Downtown, and providing environmentally and functionally sustainable outdoor space. The plan engaged stakeholders, neighborhood organizations, and over 4,000 citizens. One-fifth of respondents ranked trees as their number one priority for basic amenities Downtown. The plan includes recommendations for creating a more Social Downtown, Recreational Downtown, Connected Downtown, Cultural Downtown and Sustainable Downtown – all of which trees play an important role.
A Social and Recreational Downtown
For Denverites, there’s nothing better than getting outdoors with dogs, family and friends. A robust urban forest unites people by providing a shady place to sit, lounge, meet, and play under. Softening the hardscape through greening would turn our streets into more welcoming places to frequent. Making sure our public spaces and parks are safe is also important to creating a more social and recreational downtown. Trees have been proven to reduce both violent and petty crime in our sister cities. Planting more trees Downtown would help to increase the everyday activation of our Downtown and would be beneficial for everyone.
A Connected Downtown
When asked what their favorite thing to do in Downtown outdoor spaces were, walking, socializing and relaxing, and biking were top answers. In 2017, 14% of Downtown Denver employees walked or biked to work. Building out a visionary mobility network to enhance the day-to-day experience of life Downtown for all is a top priority for the Outdoor Downtown Plan. Adding trees along the the sides of the streets not only makes walking and biking a more pleasant experience, but it also would improve safety and create distinct gateways throughout our city. By connecting Downtown through greenspaces, people are more likely to be active and get outdoors.
A Cultural Downtown
Denver has a rich history of art and culture, from the Big Blue Bar to Alley art. However, many of Downtown Denver’s parks and public spaces lack amenities to encourage daily creative use. Art and cultural doesn’t necessarily be man-made. Take Central Park in New York City, for example. Not only does the park program countless high-capacity event and art installations, but it also has hundreds of iconic trees within its boundary. People frequent Central Park for its rich culture of greenery. Given enough time, Downtown Denver can grow cultural, iconic trees that would connect people with their environment and give a greater sense of community.
A Sustainable Downtown
Downtown Denver is in a unique position to increase its resiliency through sustainable initiatives in the face of population increase and climate change. One way to boost resiliency is by increasing the urban forest. The Outdoor Downtown Plan recommending planting and maintaining 1,000 trees over the next ten years. The plan also recommends retrofitting 50 conventional tree pits each year for 10 years. The Downtown Denver Partnership’s Urban Forest Initiative seeks to help the City achieve these goals through tree pit retrofits and providing maintenance to BID-paying commercial properties. The urban tree canopy is important to the comfort of downtown’s residents, employees and visitors, provides habitat for urban wildlife, and mitigates the urban heat island effect and climate change. Investing in Downtown Denver’s parks and public spaces is a win-win for our business community, residents, and the city itself.