The Essential Need for Parks During a Pandemic

For 40 years, we have lived by the belief that our community deserves plenty of outdoor spaces to recreate and enjoy nature. With all the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, parks and green spaces have become even more vital for maintaining health and happiness during tough times. We recently came across a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, detailing the importance of open spaces in relation to physical and mental health, and we thought we’d share some of the highlights – as well our own thoughts on the subject!

 

Physical Activity Reduces COVID-19 Risk Factors

We all know that physical activity benefits your overall health, but studies show that outdoor activity and exposure to nature specifically correlate to reducing COVID-19 risk factors. Exercise is proven to lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes – all of which are linked to intensifying symptoms of COVID-19.

 

Mental Health Benefits of Experiencing Nature

Mental illness has been dubbed the unspoken collateral damage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The debilitating mental side effects of isolation and lack of human interaction can be very harmful for those who already struggle with mental health issues. Exercising and spending time in nature reduce stress and depression, as well as release endorphins that improve mental wellbeing.

 

Socially Distanced, Safe and Still Moving

Even as public places have started reopening, many don’t feel comfortable being enclosed in a gym. Fortunately, experts are saying that outdoor spaces are relatively safe during a pandemic when people stay more than six feet apart, wear face masks, and refrain from long conversations with others. With a beautiful Colorado fall on the horizon, parks and outdoor spaces are the perfect place to engage in physical activity.

 

Recommendations for Urban Areas in the Future

The CDC article notes that those who live in dense urban areas may be at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and have limited access to parks and open spaces. A couple ideas for resolving this issue include an “open streets” style initiative, in which city blocks are closed off for a day to encourage outdoor activity. Additionally, transforming unused natural spaces in urban areas into functioning recreational pockets have tremendous benefits, not only on residents’ wellbeing but on the environment as well. Learn more about this concept with our newest RiNO Promenade project.

 

Colorado Parks to Explore

Itching to get out of the house and spend some quality time at Colorado parks? Here are just a few pandemic-friendly outdoor spaces that ECI has created:

 

 

 

ECI Receives Top Honor in BizWest’s Mercury 100 Fastest Growing Company List

And the winner is… ECI!! We are so incredibly excited to announce that ECI has ranked in the number one spot for Flight I of BizWest’s Mercury 100 Fastest Growing Companies list for Northern Colorado. The Mercury 100 list is among the top honors a Northern Colorado business can receive, and we are very proud to top the 2019 list.

 

The list was announced in September 2020 and is determined by the annual revenue growth from 2017-2019. 100 companies are honored every year – 50 in Northern Colorado and 50 in Boulder Valley – and each region is divided into five “flights,” based on each company’s 2019 annual revenue. Our revenue placed us in Flight I, and due to our 108 percent growth from 2017-2019, we ranked number one in our flight.

 

This honor coincides with our 40th year in business, making it even more special. ECI was founded by Brian Peterson in 1980 as a one-man landscape contractor. Over the past four decades, ECI has grown to become the largest northern Colorado and Denver-area general contractor that specializes in the construction of landmark parks, sporting fields and other premier outdoor spaces that bring communities together and boost local economies.

 

Some of our most notable Northern Colorado projects include:

  • Loveland Sports Park Phases I and II: Loveland, 2006 and 2019
  • Spring Canyon Park: Fort Collins, 2007
  • MAX/Bus Rapid Transit: Fort Collins, 2014
  • Mehaffey Park: Loveland, 2015
  • Twin Silo Park: Fort Collins, 2017
  • Poudre River Whitewater Park: Fort Collins, 2019
  • Timnath Community Park Phase II: Timnath, 2020

 

Thank you to our stellar team of dedicated employees and collaborative industry partners for 40 years of partnership, growth, and beautifying Colorado.

 

RiNO Promenade: Beautifying Denver and Reclaiming Nature

Over the years, ECI has been fortunate to work on numerous projects along the South Platte River in Denver – Confluence Park, Platte Farm Detention Basin, and 39th Avenue Greenway, just to name a few. We are thrilled to announce that one of our newest projects, RiNO Promenade, is continuing the beautification of this region and will provide recreational opportunities for generations to come.

 

A New Space for Recreation in Denver

The RiNO Promenade will combine recreation, leisure, the natural environment, and the vibrancy of the neighborhood to create one all-encompassing linear park along the South Platte River. The elaborate outdoor space will span from 29th Street to 38th Street and connect the new River North Park at 35th and Arkins with Globeville Landing Park at 38th. Promenade visitors will be able to enjoy numerous unique elements, such as an elevated walkway with seating areas, outdoor classrooms, and viewing platforms 16 feet above the river bank to fully take in the beauty of the South Platte River.

 

In addition to providing new recreational experiences, the project will also enhance natural vegetation. Stormwater will be treated using landscape-based water quality areas, which will hydraulically connect vegetated swales with chase drains and shallow conveyances. Existing outfalls that served Arkins Court as a street will be reused for the stormwater from the Park and adjacent roads, but with added water quality areas to clean the water before it goes into the river.

 

A Vision in the Works for Years

The RiNO Promenade – and revitalization of this entire region – has been a Denver dream for many years and has involved the leadership of several entities. Two primary key players have been The Greenway Foundation and Wenk Associates.

 

The South Platte River had historically been treated as a landfill, due to the booming industrial activity in this part of Denver during past decades. With an emphasis on sustainability and environmental preservation, ideas of improvements have circulated for numerous years. Starting more than 10 years ago, The Greenway Foundation began working with the City and County of Denver to create a plan detailing how river corridor restoration could turn RiNO into one of the most thriving areas of Denver. Thanks to this organization’s tireless advocacy, several stretches of the South Platte River have undergone complex improvements in recent years that have resulted in significant environmental and economic benefits.

 

Wenk Associates has served as the project’s lead consultant and architect, as well as the master planner, since 2015. The original goal for this stretch was to accommodate population growth by creating a park where people could work and play, while also enhancing the South Platte River. Since then, the vision has evolved to meet the demographic and ecological needs of the area. Under Wenk’s leadership, the initial phase, RiNO Park, has been completed and opened to the public in August 2020. The current section, or “Promenade Phase I,” is expected to be completed in fall 2021.

 

Long-Lasting Impacts on Five Points and Globeville Neighborhoods

While all Coloradans will have the opportunity to enjoy RiNO Promenade, the project will have a profound impact on the nearby Five Points and Globeville Neighborhoods. This region has lacked comfortable green space in the past, and the new promenade will provide a much-needed flexible space for residents to gather and play in a welcoming environment, while still retaining the arts and culture landscape for which the region is best known.

 

“It is our hope that the RiNO region continues to celebrate and steward the River that is the heart of its name,” said Devon Buckels, Director of The Water Connection, the water resources and policy initiative of The Greenway Foundation. “This celebration can take the form of supporting and advocating for funding measures for continued improvements and enhancements, taking steps to protect the water quality in the River by supporting projects to clean stormwater flow before it enters the river, and welcoming people of all generations and backgrounds, RiNO residents and others, to enjoy the City’s most magnificent natural resource.”

 

Navigating Challenges and an Everchanging Landscape

As with any complex project, the RiNO Promenade won’t come without its challenges. One potential obstacle involves two major Metro Sewer interceptors that carry sewage beneath the project site to the treatment facility downstream. Furthermore, the area surrounding the project site is built on fill that is more than 100 years old, requiring the construction team to delicately treat all soils as though they are contaminated. Fortunately, ECI has ample experience responsibly dealing with contaminated soil from our work on Confluence Park in 2015-2017.

 

In addition to these known challenges, the unknown factors will also demand extra attention and flexibility. Because the neighborhoods and environment in this region are constantly evolving, the Promenade will have to adapt with its surrounding to maintain accessibility and functionality for its many visitors.

 

A Collaboration Among Numerous Entities

The RiNO Promenade is a collaboration among numerous dedicated entities. Special thanks to the following for being a part of this iconic project:

 

Owner/Client: Denver Parks and Recreation

Project Management: Denver Public Works

Client: North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative

Lead Consultant & Landscape Architect: Wenk Associates

General Contractor: ECI Site Construction Management

Project Partners: The Greenway Foundation and RiNO BID

Neighbor and Advocate: RiNO Arts District

Public Art: Denver Arts & Venues

 

We look forward to sharing updates as RiNO Promenade progresses!

 

Rendering courtesy of the City and County of Denver.

View more renderings of RiNO Promenade from the City and County of Denver here.

Pocket Parks and Plum Trees: Painted Prairie Promises a Unique Neighborhood Experience

You know what they say: A new neighborhood is only as good as its outdoor spaces. Or at least that’s what we say at ECI! Over the past several months, we have had the incredible opportunity of creating parks and gathering spaces at the new Painted Prairie housing development, located near DIA in Aurora. The project consisted of a main neighborhood park and five smaller pocket parks, all of which have unique features and purposes.

These parks are spread across 22 acres and will serve as communal gathering spaces for new residents. They include numerous fascinating amenities, such as custom play structures, sport fields, community gardens, sand beaches, shade structures, etc.

In many ways, Painted Prairie has been one of our most unique projects, due to the creative architectural elements designed by Civitas. For example, one of the parks is named Plum Park and is filled with different types of fruiting plum trees. Another park is named Lavender Park and features hundreds of lavender plants and wildflowers. Furthermore, there is an apple orchard in the main neighborhood park and an area called the “butterfly garden,” which is filled with flowers that naturally attract butterflies. The butterfly garden also has weaving crusher fines paths that resemble a butterfly wing.

Throughout this project, ECI self-performed much of the earthwork and several other aspects. Our team created berms, naturally occurring land formations like the “arroyo,” and wore many different hats to help all of our subcontractors with their work and transform the land into the envisioned end product. Expert scheduling and coordination was top priority in order to progress alongside the land being developed.

Special thanks to all our collaborative partners: Civitas, AquaTerra Environmental, Beanstalk Builders, BrightView Landscape, and a strategic team of subcontractors. We look forward to residents enjoying these unique outdoor spaces for many years to come!

ECI Supports the Aims Foundation in Times of Crisis

The future is only as strong as those who invest in emerging leaders. It is this belief that has driven ECI to support educational causes, such as the Aims Foundation, the charitable arm of Aims Community College in Greeley. For the past several years, ECI has partnered with this incredible organization to provide scholarships for their construction trades program. This year, we were raised $7,000 to support the next generation of construction leaders.

 

“While we are all navigating the impacts of COVID-19, we are honored to have dedicated partners that stepped up and made generous contributions in lieu of ECI’s annual golf tournament, which was unfortunately cancelled this year,” said Ted Johnson, President of ECI. “ECI believes the investment in education and supporting individuals who will be contributing to the future of our industry is paramount, now more than ever.”

 

We were certainly disappointed that we had to cancel the annual ECI Golf Tournament due to COVID-19, but we are immensely grateful for our stellar community partners that contributed to this worthy cause. Thanks to Flood and Peterson, FirstBank, and The Greenway Foundation, the Aims Foundation was able to increase the number of scholarships distributed to eight total gifts. These funds will go towards numerous aspects of construction students’ education, including books, attendance costs, tuition, fees, etc. During times of economic uncertainty, assisting future careers in the construction industry is more important than ever.

 

“Aims students have been heavily affected by the pandemic, and scholarship support is essential to ensuring they remain on track with their education,” said Kelly Jackson, Executive Director of the Aims Foundation. “Our corporate partnerships are a key component to propelling student success, and we appreciate the united effort to creating a highly trained workforce.”

 

Learn more about the Aims Foundation here.

 

5 Tips for Surviving Work-From-Home Life

This spring has brought about numerous unprecedented changes in the way we conduct our daily work lives. For many of us in the Colorado construction industry, this includes working solely from home for what could be the first time. At first it sounds like a dream – pajamas all day, your kitchen only steps away, quality time with your spouse who is also confined to the home. But after about day three (or hour three), the magic wears off and the isolation sets in. For anyone who is struggling with the work-from-life, take a deep breath and follow these handy pointers:

 

1. Communication is Now More Important Than Ever

Worldwide pandemic or not, strong communication and collaboration within the construction industry is always the key to success. If you’re stuck at home instead of at the office, communication needs to be doubled…maybe tripled. Set up regular touch-bases with your project team so everyone is following the same course of action, and opt for video meetings when possible to help fill the social void.

 

2. Maintain Normal Working Hours and Routine

It can be tempting to sleep in, work late, take three-hour lunch breaks, etc. Ultimately, this will just make productivity even more of a challenge. Starting and ending work at definitive times helps with accountability and focus. We recommend setting up a “home office station,” whether that’s in a spare bedroom or the kitchen table, so you can still feel like you’re arriving at and leaving work.

 

3. Keep Projects at Front of Mind

It’s all too easy to slip into a “what’s the point” attitude when we’re surrounded by everchanging chaos on a regular basis. If that sounds like you, here’s the motivation you were looking for: While nearly every other industry is shutting down, construction keeps chugging along because it is considered essential to our lives and the lives of future generations. Construction is needed whether the economy is thriving or suffering, and our community is depending on you to pull through. To sum up, YOUR PROJECT MATTERS!

 

4. Minimize Distractions…As Much as Possible

This probably sounds much easier said than done, especially if you’re now adopting the role of homeschool teacher (parents, we salute you). In order to survive working from home, try to eliminate the optional distractions – unnecessary social media, Netflix, noisy roommates, depressing news reels, etc. Set aside time at the beginning and end of your work day for all these distractions instead.

 

5. Use Lunch Breaks for Neighborhood Walks

Finally – and most importantly – “Shelter in Place” does NOT mean “forget what sunshine feels like.” Use your lunch break to take a walk around the neighborhood to get some fresh air and clear your head. If possible, work from your deck or at least position your home office near a sunny window. It’s no secret we’re all about those outdoor spaces – use them as comfort when you need them most.

 

Together, we will make it through these tough times. Hang in there, and here’s to unexpected pajama days!

 

 

7 Colorado Parks to Visit This Summer

We’re not going to sugarcoat it – the beginning of spring is shaping up to be a rough season for Colorado (and for the rest of the world). But since we’re a “glass half full” kind of company, we like to focus on the silver lining and provide hope whenever possible. The good news is that these dreary days won’t last forever, and soon we’ll be back to our normal lives and enjoying the many beautiful outdoor spaces Colorado has to offer.

 

While you’re stuck at home and dreaming of brighter days, we’re here to remind you to put these fantastic Colorado parks on your post-quarantine day trip list:

 

1 | Poudre River Whitewater Park, Fort Collins

This revolutionary venue is the only whitewater park in northern Colorado. Whether you’re a killer kayaker, terrific tuber, or just someone who enjoys relaxing next to the rushing rapids, the Poudre River Whitewater Park is the place for you. Officially opened to the public in October 2019, the park is located in north Fort Collins and boasts an enormous pedestrian bridge, children’s play area, new paved trails and plenty of boating features for an adventurous day.

 

2 | Woodbriar Park, Greeley

This spacious park has been a Greeley staple since its original construction in the 1970s. Over the last few years, the City of Greeley decided the entire park needed a revamp with a new neighborhood park and improved stormwater system that was better coordinated with city departments. The redesigned Woodbriar Park was unveiled in 2018 and included a natural style of playground and adjacent structures that were repurposed from existing trees.

 

3 | Confluence Park, Denver

Confluence Park and Shoemaker Plaza have been dubbed “The Heart of Denver,” and we couldn’t agree more! This iconic landmark was one of our largest – and most challenging – projects a few years back. During the shore work, buried coal tar was discovered, requiring construction to pause for a year to address water treatment and filtering. Today, the ADA-sensitive plaza serves as a gathering space for Denver residents, with the South Platte River running alongside it.

 

4 | Twin Silo Park, Fort Collins

Who can forget when those two giant silos popped up in southeast Fort Collins? Located just south of Fossil Ridge High School, this relatively new community park was a gamechanger for the growing population in the region. The park is outfitted with a twisting slide connecting two relocated steel silos, a farmhouse-inspired shelter, pickleball courts, multi-purpose fields and a unique vertical grow wall. This summer, come out to enjoy a BMX riding area and water play area in McClelland’s Creek.

 

5 | Wellington Community Park, Wellington

As soon as we’re able to gather in crowds of more than 10, Wellington Community Park is the perfect venue for a summer softball league. Located near the Buffalo Creek subdivision, this 30-acre park includes ball fields, tennis courts, a dog park, playground, splash pad and multipurpose fields. In addition to the new amenities, ECI improved the park’s stormwater system. So pack up a picnic basket and bring a frisbee – this park has a little bit of everything for our Wellington friends.

 

6 | Mehaffey Park, Loveland

This gem in west Loveland has everything you need for a jam-packed day of family fun! Mehaffey Park includes an adventure playground with one-of-a-kind concrete climbing and retaining walls that simulate natural stone properties and shade shelters, a custom skatepark and post tension tennis courts. Plus, the park features a lovely waterfall structure with a stream that runs through the entire playground.

 

7 | Margaret Carpenter Park, Thornton

Completed in 2013, Margaret Carpenter Park is considered Thornton’s flagship park – and for good reason. This 150-acre park is like none other, featuring a carousel, boat rental house and dock, bocce ball and shuffleboard courts, professional sand volleyball pit, horseshoe pits, 500-seat amphitheater, skate park, playground, and much more.

 

Here’s to a better summer and sunny days at the park!

From One-Man Landscaper to Leaders in Building Outdoor Spaces: ECI Celebrates 40 Years in Business

480 months. 2,080 weeks. 14,600 days. 40 years flies when you’re busy crafting outdoor spaces to enhance communities across Colorado. 2020 marks a milestone year for ECI as we celebrate our 40th anniversary! In honor of the occasion, we thought we’d highlight some of our thrills and frills, milestones and landmarks, achievements and challenges – all of which made us the company we are today.

 

The Early Days of ECI: Just a Man and His Wheelbarrow

Like any good ol’ success story, ECI had humble beginnings. Brian Peterson founded ECI in 1980 as a one-man landscaping contractor under the name of Environmental Concerns. With just a wheelbarrow as his “heavy equipment,” Brian tackled small landscaping jobs in northern Colorado – a stark contrast from the 100+ acre park projects ECI currently builds. Even though his business was small, he had a big passion for beautifying the northern Colorado community, something that has stuck with ECI throughout the decades.

“When I started Environmental Concerns 40 years ago, I focused on landscaping but always had a plan to grow the company beyond planting trees and installing irrigation systems,” Brian said. “Coloradans are passionate about outdoor spaces, whether it’s parks, rivers, trails, sports fields or amphitheaters. Municipalities want to continuously improve residents’ quality of life. I knew that constructing outdoor spaces was a niche we could fill.”

In the mid-1980s, Brian brought on his business partner, Rick Coulter. Together, they launched ECI into its next era of large-scale landscaping projects, including landmark locations in the area like Loveland Civic Center, Benson Sculpture Park and Loveland Visitor Center.

 

New Millennium, New Name, New Business Focus

During the early 2000s, ECI took the official leap into the construction world when we performed our first CM/GC project: Broomfield County Commons Park. This $10 million contract included an 80-acre athletic complex, complete with 15 playing fields and extensive park amenities. Around this time, we rebranded to reflect our new business focus as a general contractor and took on our current name of ECI Site Construction Management.

 

Growth in Project Scope and Overcoming Challenges

Throughout the next 20 years, our self-perform capabilities expanded, as well as the complexity of our project scope. We are proud to have built more than 100 iconic projects in northern Colorado, Denver and across the Front Range (but hey, who’s counting?).

Part of growing up as a company is identifying challenges along the way and finding the best solutions to overcome them. One of the best examples of this is Confluence Park and Shoemaker Plaza, the iconic downtown Denver landmark we added to our project list in 2017. The goal of this project was to improve safety and usability of the ADA access area of the plaza. The process started with securing and de-watering the area with sheet piling and demolition of the plaza. During the shore work, buried coal tar was discovered, requiring the client to pause construction for one year to address water treatment and filtering. We worked through this unexpected setback and safely removed contaminated soils, updated the ramps and plaza, and added new landscaping and lighting. Today, Confluence Park is considered “the heart of Denver.”

 

Connecting Communities with Iconic Outdoor Spaces

In addition to Confluence Park, ECI has built numerous outdoor spaces that have encouraged communities to play, exercise, relax, swim, travel, and just enjoy being in nature. Some of our favorite projects throughout the years include:

 

Today, Tomorrow and Beyond

So here we are: 40 years under our belts and no plans of stopping anytime soon. Today, we lead the horizontal construction industry in the northern Colorado and Denver regions. With 50 employees and a record revenue in 2019, we offer extensive capabilities in in pre-construction and estimating, as well as the CM/GC and design-build methods of delivery. We’re proud to partner with numerous municipalities, architects, engineers, and subcontractors to deliver exceptional outdoor spaces that will connect communities for generations to come.

We are so immensely grateful for our outstanding team members, who put in long hours and hard work with passion, dedication and meticulous detail. Although much has changed over 40 years, the values with which each of us operate stay the same: Family, integrity, results and environment.

Here’s to another 40 years!

Selina-Cook-ECI

Leading the Charge: Selina Cook Steps into Role of Chief Operating Officer

She’s the woman with the plan, the accountability officer, and the ultimate doer when it comes to getting stuff done. For nearly 17 years, Selina Cook’s vision and leadership has played a fundamental part in shaping ECI’s history, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her into the new role of Chief Operating Officer!

 

“ECI is extremely fortunate to have a tenured leader like Selina Cook within our organization,” said Ted Johnson, president of ECI. “Selina has always been a selfless team player, who provides support across all facets of our business and is a true role model – not only for me but also for women in construction. Selina will be instrumental in the continued growth, success, risk management and financial stability of ECI for many years to come.”

 

To say that Selina’s new role is well-deserved would be an understatement. She originally began her career at ECI in 2003 as a part-time receptionist, which quickly evolved into a full-time office manager position. By 2005, she led our accounting and bookkeeping division. As her training progressed, Selina assumed the duties of handling ECI’s payroll, tax reporting, financial reporting and forecasting, and cash flow management. She was promoted to the officer position of Secretary/Treasurer/Controller in 2009 and became a partner in the company. Over the next five years, Selina continued to expand the office personnel, allowing her to transition into the role of Vice President of Finance & Administration in 2014.

 

“It has been an honor to work, learn and grow within such a tight-knit organization,” said Selina. “I look forward to expanding on the many opportunities I have been afforded so that I can continue ECI’s legacy of development and help lead the company’s expansion. This leadership role will help instill the internal culture and passion needed for the future success and employee growth.”

 

Selina’s career milestones largely coincided with formative ECI events. When she began in 2003, ECI was still operating under its original name of Environmental Concerns, Inc., employed 12 full-time staff members and had a revenue of $7.5 million annually. By March 2004, ECI fully transitioned into being a site general contractor exclusively with new ownership. During this time, Selina initiated and implemented a more robust accounting software program and brought the company’s external accounting preparation internally. The methodical accounting controls and processes she developed profoundly contributed to the strategic growth and success of the company.

 

Today, ECI is one of the leading general contractors in northern Colorado and operates a $47 million corporation at the brink of 50 employees. In her new role of COO, Selina will directly oversee company financial reporting and planning, provide leadership, performance management, operating efficiency, strategic alignment, and internal accountability. She will continue to influence the future of ECI as she aligns internal controls and accountability to ensure efficiency and apply business operations strategies, plans and procedures.

 

Selina’s remarkable career journey has not gone unnoticed. In 2019, she was nominated as a BizWest Woman of Distinction in the Real Estate, Construction and Development category. Moving forward, she will be the driving force in promoting ECI’s company culture and overall vision.

 

Congrats on your new role, Selina!