Jefferson County Open Space on Dec. 19 closed the deal to buy 7 acres zoned residential next to the Elk Meadow Open Space Park in Evergreen for $600,000.
The land located west of Evergreen Parkway at Bergen Peak Drive is situated between a housing development and the park at the intersection of Evergreen Parkway and Stagecoach Boulevard.
The advisory committee of the Jeffco Open Space department recommended acquiring the parcel, and the Open Space Advisory Commission approved it in a split vote at a regular meeting Sept. 4.
The county commissioners approved the purchase Nov. 25, and the deal was closed Dec. 19.
The square-shaped 7 acres have been owned by Warren and Virginia Lewis since 1959 and are part of the 25 acres that was rezoned in 2005 for single-family housing and the Rocky Mountain Academy.
The county commissioners approved the 2005 rezoning from agricultural-2 to planned development zoning to allow as many as 17 single-family homes and a school.
At the time, the rezoning was highly contentious and opposed by a sizable contingent of neighbors. But in the end, all three commissioners voted in favor of the school and 17 houses.
Most of the members of the Open Space Advisory Commission agreed the remaining land not yet built out should be incorporated into Elk Meadow Park, although two voted against the purchase for cost reasons.
The open space program is funded by a 0.5-cent sales tax. Since 1972, more than $285 million has been spent in the cities and unincorporated areas of the county to acquire more than 51,000 acres of land, water and facilities. The last significant fund infusion was in 1998, when voters approved a bond of $160 million for property acquisition.
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History of Elk Meadow Park
In 1869, the U.S. government offered 160-acre tracts to homesteaders (Robert Strain, Charles Abbott, Thomas Audrey and Charlotte Dow). From 1905 to 1943, Theodore Johnson would acquire 940 acres through various purchases, including 200 acres to the south owned by Hamrick. By 1945, Darst Buchanan had bought 1,140 acres to maintain a large herd of purebred Hereford cattle. In 1949, Cole Means purchased all of Buchanan's land for a summer pasture for his Texas herds.
In 1977, Open Space began purchasing this property among its initial acquisitions. A picturesque barn in the meadow is evidence of the ranching history of this park. The grounds offer 12 miles of trail and a variety of ecosystems, including grassland, ponderosa forest, Douglas fir, aspen groves and subalpine at the top of Bergen Peak, with panoramic views of Mount Evans and scenic rock outcroppings.
Elk Meadow Park is approximately 1,657 acres in size and is located along Highway 74 and Lewis Ridge Road in Evergreen. The park has 12 miles of trails that range from a half-mile in length to almost 4 miles, from open meadows to conifer forest.
The park is currently developed with two parking lots, a composting restroom at the Stagecoach Boulevard entrance and a restroom at the main parking area; two kiosks; a dog park and dog off-leash area; and a picnic area located at the Stagecoach Boulevard parking lot.
Recreational activities available at the park include picnicking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, dog exercising and self-guided interpretation.
Visitation and Use Trends
Historically, Elk Meadow Park has seen an average annual visitation of approximately 74,000 visitors. Hiking appears to be the most prevalent type of recreational use followed in popularity by mountain biking and then running or jogging.
The Park Visitor Survey of 2004 indicated a 13% level of conflict experienced at the park. This was up from the 8% noted in the previous survey conducted in 2001.
The facility capacity of Elk Meadow Park, as illustrated on the Conceptual Site Plan, allows for 115 cars between its two parking lots. Including non-motorized access to the area, this equates to approximately 258 visitors at any one time on the park.
Source: Jefferson County Elk Meadow Park Management Plan and Jefferson County Open Space