Editor's note: This story has been changed to clarify that Summer Games are a program of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, as part of their exhibit Game Changer.
Ping pong and trivia on a Thursday night. Crossfit on a Saturday morning.
Boulder is trying to "activate" the Civic Area — the area between Ninth and 17th streets, Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue, that includes the Boulder Main Public Library, the lawn between the library and the Boulder Municipal Building, Central Park and the Boulder Farmers' Market — with events that bring a wider range of people to the park area that has gained a reputation as a hang out for transients.
"It's about changing the way the space looks, so it is more inviting," said Jody Tableporter, one of two co-managers overseeing implementation of the Civic Area plan. "It's about activities, so people who haven't been here for a while have a reason to come."
The Boulder City Council adopted the Civic Area Master Plan last year to plot the long-term future of the area at the heart of Boulder. Some of the ideas, like a year-round indoor Farmers' Market and a new performing arts complex, are still tentative and will require feasibility studies and funding, possibly through a future bond package, possibly through public-private partnerships.
Boulder hired Tableporter, an expert in urban regeneration who has worked for the London mayor and on local and national parks projects in the United States, and Paul Leef, former campus architect for the Colorado School of Mines, to oversee the implementation, including working with consultants this fall to develop the next phase.
But the city is moving forward with developing "the park at the core" of the Civic Area. This summer, work crews cleaned and painted the historic Glen Huntington bandshell, reseeded and repaired the lawn between the library and the municipal building and put in new landscaping along Canyon Boulevard.
This fall, voters will see a three-year, 0.3 percent sales tax on the ballot that would, among other projects, pay for $8.7 million in improvements to the Civic Area.
Those projects include play areas, educational nature centers and paths along the creek, improved access points, including gateways, signs and public art and redesigned plazas to host community events and arts performances.
Consultants will start working with the city and broader community this fall to refine the project list.
Civic Area Activation Events
Summer Games II: Yoga in the park, followed by food and drink from Blackbelly Food Truck and BRU; 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, south lawn of Central Park
Summer Games III: Volleyball, dodgeball, bocce ball, croquet and chess, followed by food and drink from McDevitt Taco Supply and Sanitas Brewing Company, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 7, south lawn of Central Park
Daffodil Planting: Volunteers are sought to plant 7,000 daffodils in Central Park on Sept. 27. This event will kick off the 1,000 Friends of the Boulder Civic Area volunteer group.
Info: To follow upcoming activation events, go to http://bit.ly/UuihGY
The summer events aim to get people thinking differently about the Civic Area even in advance of that first stage of improvements.
"We just really want to make a lot of positive experiences for people," said Mike Banuelos, a spokesman for the city.
Despite many people telling city officials that safety is a concern in the Civic Area, roughly 200 people turned out for the first Summer Games event Thursday night, with ping pong, trivia, food trucks and beer in front of the art museum on 13th Street.
"I think it's more about the programming than the place," Tableporter said.
Summer Games are a series of events sponsored by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art as part of their Game Changer exhibit, in which 12 artists take a critical look at modern sports.
On a hot Friday afternoon, a young man stacked cairns in the middle of Boulder Creek near the library, while another man fished. A group of young children in helmets learned the basics of kayaking.
Mark and Sheila Siemann of Erie sat in lawn chairs and watched the action. Mark Siemann said he lived in Boulder for 20 years and still likes to come back three or four times a summer to enjoy Boulder Creek. He hopes the city doesn't change what for him is the most important part of the Civic Area, the creek and the natural areas around it.
"I like it the way it is, just put your towel out and relax," Mark Siemann said. "This is Boulder."
Paul and Thais De Goes of Boulder helped their young children, 3 ½ and 2, dry off after a dip in the creek. They said they almost never come to the creek because of negative interactions they have had with transients.
They had the day off work, took the kids to story time at the library and then wandered over to the creek because other families with children were there. They were pleasantly surprised that they could hang out along the creek and let their children wade in the water without being bothered.
Paul De Goes said he likes the idea of more events along the creek and in Central Park, and he would be more likely to come back now.
City officials like to point out that more than 5,000 ideas were submitted by the public to develop the Civic Area Master Plan, and the public will be invited to participate again in developing the specific projects for the next phase.
"This is about trying to deliver what the community said they wanted for the heart of Boulder," Leef said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or firstname.lastname@example.org