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Arapahoe County News

Posted on: September 17, 2021

Arapahoe County awards Open Space funds at annual Shareback & Grant Awards Ceremony

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$16.6 million distributed to agency partners and $4.45 million in grants awarded 

Arapahoe County Commissioners have distributed more than $21 million to cities, towns and partner agencies as part of the County’s Open Spaces Shareback & Grant Awards Ceremony. The Sept. 17 event recognized their work to improve local parks, trails and open spaces, positively impacting the quality of life for Arapahoe County residents. Attendees were  beneficiaries of the County’s Shareback and Open Spaces Grant Programs, which fund recreation and conservation efforts through the County’s Open Space Sales and Use Tax.

Fifty percent of the annual Open Space Sales and Use Tax revenue is distributed directly back to participating cities and towns across the County through its Shareback program. Funds are allocated according to population, and they contribute to the quality of life and overall health of County residents via trail, playground and park improvement projects.

“We want to thank our agency partners for effective collaboration in supporting communities through an unprecedented year,” said Nancy Jackson, Chair of the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners. “If anything good has come from this pandemic, it is that more people than ever are stepping outdoors and recreating close to home—and are recognizing the inherent value of the outdoor places and spaces right here in our backyard. We hope these funds will enable our partners to keep critical projects moving forward, for the enjoyment of generations to come.” 

In addition to Shareback funds, the Board awarded grants ranging from $75,000 to $500,000 in support of 16 projects to 13 local cities, towns and recreation districts. These include playground improvements in Aurora, trail improvements in Greenwood Village and Bennett, new athletic field lighting in Strasburg, and a trail connectivity analysis in Littleton.   

“The variety and scope of projects reflects the diverse needs of Arapahoe County, which spans 805 square miles from high-density urban areas to the rural Eastern Plains,” says Shannon Carter, Open Spaces Director. “Continued investment in our outdoor spaces increases accessibility, safety and enjoyment of our local parks and trails.”

The 2021 Our Progress Takes Flight Award, an annual stewardship award, was given to The High Line Canal Working Group, for improving trail safety through two major underpass projects at Hampden/Colorado (completed in June 2021) and Parker/Mississippi (anticipated completion Fall 2021). Three lead agencies in the High Line Canal Working Group were recognized for their leadership role in the underpass projects: City of Cherry Hills Village, the City and County of Denver, and Arapahoe County.

These awards exemplify residents’ ongoing support for the County’s parks, trails and open spaces. In 2003 and again in 2011, voters approved the quarter-cent Open Space Sales and Use Tax. In November 2021, voters will decide whether to continue the countywide investment beyond its 2023 expiration. 

Details about the 2021 grant awards can be found below. Each year, 12 percent of the tax revenue is dedicated to the Open Spaces Grant Program. The County’s investment in these projects is leveraged by more than $4 million in matching funds provided by the grant recipients. 

When these projects are completed, communities across the County will benefit from five fully renovated parks, one newly expanded park, one mile of improved trail, and six upgraded playgrounds.

Grant Recipients and Projects

   

Arapahoe Park and Recreation District:  

  • $134,307 for playground, soccer field and landscaping improvements at Pioneer Park in unincorporated Arapahoe County

 City of Aurora: 

  • $500,000 for new playgrounds, resurfaced tennis and basketball courts, and a picnic area at Fulton Park
  • $350,000 for renovation of Peoria Hills Park, to include a new playground, picnic area, and loop trail  

Town of Bennett: 

  • $187,500 to reconstruct a portion of the Kiowa-Bennett Road Trail to provide a safer trail experience

Byers Park and Recreation District:

  • $357,686 to support phase 2 improvements at Byers Community Park in unincorporated Arapahoe County, to include a picnic shelter, restroom, and sports court

City of Centennial:

  • $500,000 to support the phase 2 expansion of Centennial Center Park, including a new pavilion, gazebo, and turf lawn

Cherry Creek Vista Park and Recreation District: 

  • $500,000 for renovation of Peakview Park in unincorporated Arapahoe County, to include a new playground, pickleball court, and landscaping improvements

East Arapahoe Metropolitan District:

  • $135,000 to renovate two tennis courts in Centennial

City of Englewood: 

  • $350,000 for improved amenities at Jason Park, to include a new restroom, picnic pavilion and basketball court

 City of Greenwood Village: 

  • $200,000 for renovation of a segment of the Greenwood Gulch Trail along East Orchard Drive

 City of Littleton: 

  • $100,000 for a citywide trail connectivity analysis, which will identify gaps, accessibility issues, and community priorities for trail improvements
  • $75,000 for a citywide assessment of water needs for parks and open space

Smoky Hill Metropolitan District:

  • $94,351 for a new shade pavilion and outdoor fitness stations at Big Sandy Park in Centennial

South Suburban Park and Recreation District: 

  • $319,500 for renovation of Harmony Park in unincorporated Arapahoe County, including a new playground, shade structure and walkways
  • $500,000 for improvements at Southbridge Park in Littleton, to include ballfield renovations and a new basketball court, playground, and picnic shelter

Strasburg Metropolitan Park and Recreation District:

  • $150,000 to install ballfield and security lighting at Five Acre Park in unincorporated Arapahoe County

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