Westwood Pocket Park: A New Oasis in Denver Opens to the Community

Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Denver Parks & Recreation (DPR), along with their community partners, D3 Arts, Ratha Sok, Groundwork Denver, and Westwood Unidos proudly announce the grand opening of a new pocket park at Kentucky Avenue and Irving Street in the Westwood neighborhood. With the highest populations of youth in Denver, this much-needed community space brings new amenities and connectivity to the area.

Designed with community input and a goal to provide a safe place for teens to gather, the pocket park features skate elements, half-court basketball, a mural wall and custom seating and shade structure. In addition, the park improves pedestrian connections and provides a safer route for Kepner Middle School students traveling to nearby afterschool programs at Denver Housing Authority and J. Churchill Owen Boys and Girls Club. Seven new trees and landscaping have helped transform what was previously the site of a former Xcel Energy electrical substation.

“This new park was designed by and for neighborhood teens,” said Jim Petterson, Vice President Mountain West Region for Trust for Public Land. “It’s exciting to see a community reclaim and reimagine outdoor spaces like this former electrical substation and create a park that reflects the culture and priorities of the surrounding neighborhood. This park is the product of deep collaboration among the community, Trust for Public Land, local partners and Denver Parks & Recreation.”

TPL closely collaborated with neighborhood youth to develop the park’s vision and masterplan by conducting peer-to-peer surveys and presenting plans at community meetings to gather neighborhood feedback. This youth-led effort resulted in the design of a park experience that will be unlike any other park in Westwood.

“Diversifying amenities and delivering new opportunities for outdoor recreation advances our mission to support a healthy and equitable city,” said Denver Parks and Recreation Executive Director Jolon Clark. “Projects like this one are key to expanding and improving our legacy park system.”

Denver’s Westwood neighborhood has the highest population of children in the city, but lags behind the rest of Denver in access to quality parks and green spaces. This new park will connect to the Westwood Via Verde, a network of existing green spaces and potential new spaces such as neighborhood bikeways, green streets, parks and enhanced alleys. This neighborhood greenway project presents opportunities for strategic and innovative approaches to green infrastructure and will deliver additional benefits, such as improved traffic safety and stormwater capture.

Thanks to a generous donation of $10,000 from Council District 3 representative, Jamie Torres and her predecessor, Paul Lopez, local artists Santiago Jaramillo and Ratha Sok created a custom mural in the park that pays homage to the fence that surround the property for years. Jaramillo, a third generation Westwood resident, uses his art to connect with the young people he sees walking a similar path. Sok, a Westwood resident and first generation Cambodian American temporary artist, uses his art to showcase community elements and highlight histories in high detail.

Denver Arts & Venues also provided a generous grant of $10,000 through their P.S. You Are Here Program for the creation of these murals along the custom wall framing the basketball court and skate areas. and a second near the basketball court area.

TPL is especially grateful for the generous support of VF Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, Gates Family Foundation, and Chrest Foundation in helping to make this park possible for current and future generations of Westwood residents and families.

Other project partners include PCL Construction Inc. who helped to bring the youth-led design to life, along with D3 Arts, Groundwork Denver, and Westwood Unidos who also played critical roles in the planning and design of the space.

“Westwood Pocket Park stands as a shining example of community collaboration and youth-driven design, transforming the space into a vibrant oasis for all,” said Ryan Schmidt, PCL District Manager. “PCL Construction, in partnership with Trust for Public Land and Denver Parks & Recreation, proudly contributed to this endeavor, embodying the essence and priorities of Denver’s Westwood neighborhood. As a community builder, we celebrate the grand opening of this park, recognizing the profound value of green spaces in fostering recreation, connection, and collective well-being.”

The opening of Westwood Pocket Park marks TPL’s 12th project along the Via Verde. Since 2011, TPL has worked hand-in-hand with residents and community partners to realize this neighborhood-scale project with the goal of improving access to the benefits of trails and parks, including improving water quality, increasing shade, strengthening community empowerment, and supporting the neighborhood’s economy.

About Trust for Public Land 

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.