$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.
Arapahoe Park and Recreation District:
City of Aurora:
Town of Bennett:
Byers Park and Recreation District:
City of Centennial:
Cherry Creek Vista Park and Recreation District:
East Arapahoe Metropolitan District:
City of Englewood:
City of Greenwood Village:
City of Littleton:
Smoky Hill Metropolitan District:
South Suburban Park and Recreation District:
Strasburg Metropolitan Park and Recreation District: