Adams County Commissioners Award More Than $10.4 Million in Open Space Grants

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, the Adams County Board of Commissioners (BoCC) awarded more than $10 million in open space grants thanks to the voter-approved Open Space Sales Tax. Due to post-pandemic recovery, Adams County awarded every dollar available. Funding for the fall 2022 grant cycle came from revenues from the first half of the 2022 Adams County Open Space Sales Tax, which was passed by Adams County voters in 1999, and in perpetuity in 2020.

“Locally based, long-term open space plans help communities protect the environment, improve quality of life, and preserve critical elements of our local heritage, culture, and economy,” said BoCC Chair Lynn Baca. “We are delighted to be part of the process alongside the residents of Adams County of providing these valuable spaces, which offer comfort and support to people everywhere.” 

When the Open Space Sales Tax was presented to voters in 1999, the ballot question called for the creation of an Open Space Advisory Board. This board recommends open space projects to the BoCC for funding. Grants are funded from 68% of the tax proceeds and are awarded twice a year.  

The grant recipients for the fall 2022 grant cycle are as follows: 

Adams County – Clear Creek Water Park

Adams County Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts seeks additional funding for the Clear Creek Whitewater Park. An eight-foot drop structure currently exists along Clear Creek west of Pecos Street. The drop structure used to protect the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) bridge foundations, but the BNSF bridge was recently replaced and no longer requires a drop structure. The drop structure is now obsolete, and to mitigate a safety hazard and improve flood conveyance, it should be replaced. Replacing the drop structure outside the BNSF right-of-way presents a tremendous opportunity for recreational enhancements and improvements to the health of Clear Creek. 

Grant Award: $1,500,000

City of Aurora – Westerly Creek Greenway Improvements 

The project includes greenway improvements such as channel realignment to create more usable recreation space and trail connectivity from the Westerly Creek Regional trail to Aurora residents, business, and local developments where a gap currently exists. A passive recreation area will also be developed including an event lawn, future futsal (indoor soccer) courts, seating, internal trails, enhanced native landscaping, and overall water quality improvements. The project is a collaborative vision between the City of Aurora, Mile High Flood District, adjacent businesses, and the local community. This phase will include design for the project with the second phase being construction. 

Grant Award: $750,000 

City of Brighton – Cherry Meadows Park 

This grant request is for construction of the new Cherry Meadows Park on an undeveloped 4.38-acre site in northern Brighton. The park lies adjacent to Brighton’s future regional trail that will circle the city. This neighborhood park will include a playground with poured-in-place surfacing, other play structures, a loop trail, road buffer, shelter, benches, site furnishings, bike rack, signage, pond, trees, and shrubs. 40% of the site will be bluegrass, while 60% of the site will contain native grasses. This park, when completed, will be sustainable and create a positive impact on this neighborhood, regional trail users, and the community. 

Grant Award: $600,000 

City of Brighton – High School Seniors Beautification Project at Carmichael Park 

This project addresses several needs with one overall purpose—to enhance the beauty and shade within the heavily used Carmichael Park. The park is the host to huge special events (Summerfest, 4th of July, Citywide BBQ, Art in the Park, and more), concerts and summer movies, walking, jogging, in-line skating, tennis, pick-up frisbee games and tag football, outdoor fitness classes, playground use, reunions, family picnics, and more. The purpose of this all-inclusive tree-planting project will be accomplished with volunteer labor from high school senior students of all abilities. The seniors will be planting 30 deciduous and evergreen trees around the edges of the park and in highly visible locations. The city will use native Colorado tree species where considered appropriate due to the soils within the park site. All the trees surrounding the park will be planted in new locations, and a few will replace trees that died or were vandalized over the past twelve years. The evergreen trees will be a minimum of five-to-sixfeet tall, and the deciduous trees will be two-inch caliper in size. 

Brighton High School has a long-standing partnership with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Since 2012, high school seniors have completed beautification projects instead of the traditional “Senior Ditch Day.”  Payment for a portion of the trees is the only item being requested through this Adams County Open Space Grant. 

Grant Award: $6,000  

City of Commerce City – Fairfax Park Improvements 

Fairfax Park received a major renovation in 2013 replacing shelters, improving ball fields, adding a futsal court, and creating a full loop perimeter trail. At that time, the playground was still in good condition, but now it is over 20 years old and needs to be replaced. Leveraging available funds for the playground replacement will allow the city to replace the vault toilet with a plumbed restroom and add a structure for the seasonal portable restroom as well. Repair and replacement are a priority for the city, and this project will ensure park users have the best possible experience at Fairfax Park. 

Grant Award: $700,000 

City of Commerce City – Stampede Park Improvements 

The existing playground at Stampede Park is over 20 years old. New playground equipment will be installed in the same location, and the existing engineered wood fiber surface material will be replaced. The old playground will be removed, and the site will be prepared for installation of the new playground. The playground will be constructed and the engineered wood fiber surface material will be added. There will continue to be two areas, a “tot lot” for younger children and an area suitable for five-to12-year-old children. Both areas will be ADA compliant and have inclusive elements.  

Currently, Stampede Park has a vault restroom without running water. This structure will be removed, and the site prepared for a precast structure with flush toilets and running water. The precast structure will be set on the prepared site, and water and sanitary taps will be connected. The restroom will stay open year-round and be heated in the winter. A timed lock automatically closes the structure each night.  

The existing irrigation system is over 20 years old and frequently requires repairs. A complete new irrigation system will be designed and installed. The new system will have water saving features such as precipitation monitoring and notifications to staff when a leak occurs to ensure water usage is as efficient as possible. All of Commerce City’s newer neighborhood parks include playgrounds, shelters, perimeter walks, and at least one additional amenity. Stampede Park was built before these standards were in place, and it does not have any additional amenities. Staff communication with neighborhood residents has determined that adding a basketball court would provide an activity for older youth who no longer use the playground. The basketball court will consist of a concrete slab with painted lines, hoops, and baskets. 

Grant Award: $375,000  

City of Northglenn – E.B. Raines Jr. Memorial Park Renovation Project 

E.B. Raines Jr. Memorial Park is a heavily used, 22-acre regional park. The park includes a variety of amenities, but this project will focus on the four primary components below. The goal of each of these projects is to refresh and update several key areas within the park striving to increase accessibility, safety, and security and encouraging adequate use of the facilities. This project will consist of construction of these four primary components:  

  1. Complete renovation or replacement of existing restroom near playground
  2. Sitting walland pedestrian access trail replacement  
  3. Skatepark hardscape enhancements
  4. New Parks & Recreation storage facility with restrooms (adjacent to east parking lot)

Grant Award: $1,350,000  

City of Thornton – Shade the Day, Light the Night! Pavilions and Skatepark Lighting 

This grant request will help Thornton improve physical comfort and extend usage hours at a number of parks through provision of shade pavilions and skatepark lighting. New shade pavilions are being installed at Community Park, Tuck Ditch Park, and the West Sprat Platte Archery Range. Thornton is also in the process of designing and installing lighting at three different skateparks; Slocum Memorial Skatepark, Carpenter Park Skatepark, and Trail Winds Skatepark. The shade projects will create more comfort on hot days, and the skatepark lighting will extend hours of use and enjoyment for the skateparks, especially during the winter months, by an estimated 736 hours. 

Grant Award: $728,000 

City of Thornton – Tree Canopy Restoration & EAB Mitigation 

Thornton’s tree canopy and urban forest is an essential element to life in our community. As our residents indicated in our 2017 Parks and Open Space Master Plan, a variety of healthy trees throughout our community are vital to the overall sense of well-being and enjoyment. Our parks and open spaces provide the ideal canvas to create a vibrant and sustainable urban forest. Our current tree canopy has been decimated by the recent prolonged drought conditions, warmer-than-average temperatures, decreased air quality, and the lack of available water resources.   

In addition to these environmental constraints, we have recently discovered the prevalence of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the City of Thornton. This highly invasive and destructive pest continues to become increasingly more prevalent throughout the City of Thornton; Adams County; and, if left uncontrolled, the entire front range of Colorado. This project is intended to include tree removal, tree pruning, stump grinding, EAB treatments, and additional tree planting.  This project will help to identify, remove, and replace the declining ash trees and replace them with new and more adaptable tree species. The work will take place throughout all Thornton’s Parks and Open Spaces in all five of the city’s forest districts. All work performed will be under the direction/guidance of the City Forester. The project will result in a more resilient tree canopy that will provide needed shade for residents, increased habitat for birds, insects, and small mammals and an increased sense of well-being for residents and visitors to the City of Thornton and Adams County. 

Grant Award: $25,000 

City of Westminster – Squires Park Renovation 

This project will update one of the most popular parks in the city, home to one of the best mountain views in our system. Squires was built in 1985 and is 16.6 acres. The park abuts Rocky Mountain Elementary School on the west and south and offers a large picnic pavilion, playground, basketball court, detention – natural area, washrooms, a non-programmed ballfield, and soccer/open play areas. Planned improvements include a new adventure playground, accessibility upgrades, trails, replacement of a 30-year-old irrigation system, additional native vegetation, an overlook with interpretive signage, a small off-leash dog area, and additional shade shelters.  

Grant Award: $900,000 

City of Westminster – Implementation of McKay Lake Area Management Plan 

The City of Westminster Open Space team is seeking funds for implementation of the McKay Lake Area Management Plan. The existing infrastructure is not sustainable as it does not account for increased usership and higher water levels. The proposed plan includes sustainable and accessible trails, raised trails for habitat connectivity and flood resistance, and an expanded trailhead and parking lot with restroom facilities and a picnic area. The support of Adams County funding will allow the city to take on the whole project in a cohesive approach that promotes sustainability and a positive user experience. 

Grant Award: $1,000,000 

Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District – Clear Creek Valley Park Phase V-Large Event Shelter(s) 

The goal is to continue to meet the needs of the community at Clear Creek Valley Regional Park. In Phase V, we plan to add an event shelter (60’ x 90’) to host events such as farmers markets, large family gatherings, and other special events. We also want to add three additional shelters to allow for areas that can be used for programs as well as family events. One of the shelters would be located in the community garden area to allow for educational programming and a place for the community garden plot holders to have shade areas to get relief from the heat. The other two shelters would be located by the newly renovated sand volleyball and pickleball courts. 

Grant Award: $360,000 

 Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District – Bicycle Park at Clear Creek Valley Park 

The purpose of the project is to hire a firm to work with staff and key stakeholders to develop and present a concept plan and cost estimates for a new bicycle park at Clear Creek Valley Park. The concept plans will be used for the RFP project design stage and build out of the future bicycle park within Clear Creek Valley Park. 

The original plans for Clear Creek Valley Park called for having a bicycle park located within the park. The Clear Creek Valley Park location is ideal and a convenient bicycle environment where people of all ages and abilities can safely and comfortably enjoy their bicycle experiences. This aligns with Hyland Hills 2020 Parks and Recreation Master Plan as well as the City of Arvada Parks Master Plan with improved opportunity for outdoor recreation. 

Grant Award: $25,000 

 Town of Bennett – Civic Center Park Construction 

Bennett Civic Center came to life in 2010 via comprehensive planning, when the Town of Bennett identified a new central area along Highway 79 that would become the core of Bennett. Civic Center Park is identified in the Town’s Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan as one of the most valuable assets for active and passive recreational amenities in the community. Phase I of Civic Center Park encompasses the veteran’s memorial, trailhead parking, community garden, and the Historic Charles Muegge House. Phase II of Civic Center is the subject of this grant. Phase II is the construction of a regional park which will include many active amenities, including playfields, playgrounds, and water activities.  

Grant Award: $1,950,000 

 Town of Bennett – Art in the Parks 

This project is to commission Some Girls and a Mural to paint one large mural in our Civic Center Park complex and five smaller murals at our other Adams County Parks. The murals will be of regional birds. The overarching theme for the murals is “Bennett a Place to Spread your Wings.” This ties into other art in the community such as the “Nest” located at the Bennett Anythink Library. The large mural is located off of the Highway 79 Trail which is the backbone of the trail system. Near the large mural there will be directional signs encouraging the use of our trail system to see the other smaller murals. 

Grant Award: $70,000 

 Town of Bennett – Trupp Park Concrete Improvements 

Trupp Park is currently the primary community park in Bennett. It is the location for the annual Bennett Days Celebration and is the site for many outdoor sports including soccer, flag football, rugby, and kickball. This park includes a skate and bicycle playground, an ADA inclusive playground with rubber surfacing, a grandstand utilized for our summer party in the parks, and a perimeter walking trail. The focus of this grant is to make much needed concrete repairs to the walkways within the park as well as on the concrete pad within the skate park. The concrete in the skate park is over 10 years old and has developed several cracks due to settling and extreme weather conditions. The walkways throughout the park have also developed cracks, breaks, and significant gaps due to the same factors. The damaged concrete in both areas creates a significant safety concern for trips and falls for all users. Trupp Park is our most highly utilized park for all demographics; therefore, it is important these repairs are made. 

Grant Award: $25,000 

 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center Amphitheater Shade Structure 

This project will build upon the extensive and ever-improving, public-use facilities at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) by creating a modern shade structure over the Visitor Center amphitheater. The Refuge is a major outdoor recreational facility in Adams County, and this project will enhance recreational opportunities and repeat visitation by providing much needed shade in this public space that connects to the Rocky Mountain Greenway Trail. 

Grant Award: $116,479.69 

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