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Open space advisory board recommends more than $1 million in park grants

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By Sandy Barnes

The Evergreen Park and Recreation District is among potential recipients of grants recommended by the Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Committee. If approved by the county commissioners, the park district will receive $79,000 to improve and rebuild the boardwalk and nature center access trail at Evergreen Lake.

Other recommended grant recipients include the cities of Golden, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge, which collectively could receive the lion’s share of more than $800,000 from the Jeffco Open Space sales tax fund.

Golden sought a $234,000 grant to construct the West 44th Avenue trail, which Jeffco Open Space Director Tom Hoby said needs to be done all at once, rather than in sections.

Lakewood is slated to receive $100,000 for flood remediation to Bear Creek Lake Park. And Wheat Ridge could get $359,000 for a Clear Creek/West 41st Avenue trail relocation project.

The open space committee also approved recommendation of more than $400,000 in grant awards from the Jeffco Conservation Trust Fund at the Jan. 9 meeting.

The top recipient in this category is the Apex Park and Recreation District, which requested $225,000 for its Simms Street Center phase 2 park development.

The Foothills Park and Recreation District was selected for a $100,000 grant for its playground project at The Ridge Recreation Center.

The Evergreen Audubon Society was chosen to receive a $5,000 grant for enhancements to its Nature Center at Evergreen Lake.

Master plan finalized

A completed master plan for Jeffco Open Space is on its way to the county commissioners for approval.

The advisory committee unanimously approved recommendation of the much-revised plan, for which there were five community meetings and last-minute opportunities for citizen comment.

The 38-page document establishes values and goals, gives financial information about Open Space, and addresses challenges and trends.

Relying on a 2011 citizen survey as well as input from PLAN Jeffco, Jefferson County Public Health and individual citizens, the master plan presents a vision for future growth.

Major goals and strategies include land preservation and acquisition, trails expansion, developing a communications and community involvement plan, and increasing volunteerism.

Promoting healthy lifestyles for adults and children is also a key focus of the master plan.

“A national trend toward more sedentary lifestyles is a major contributor to increased risk factors such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and self-reported lack of physical activity. Only 39 percent of Jeffco children ages 5 to 14 met the physical activity guidelines in 2009,” the master plan states in the “Our Health” section.

The master plan also includes a consideration for making Open Space parks smoke-free, which is presented as a “topic for study.” Both tobacco and marijuana use could be prohibited in open space parks for health and safety reasons.

Land acquisition terms completed

The final terms for the purchase of two properties totaling 800 acres have been completed with the State Land Board, Hoby announced to the advisory committee during the Jan. 9 meeting.

The acquisitions include the 640-acre Blue Mountain property in Coal Creek Canyon and the 160-acre Deer Creek property, which is south of Deer Creek Canyon Road.

Before they are opened for public use, natural resource studies of plants and wildlife will be done, using staff and volunteers, Hoby said.

The minimum bid for the parcels has been set at $3 million.

Jeffco Open Space was created as a land conservation organization in 1972 and is funded with a 0.1 percent sales tax. Open Space has protected more than 52,000 acres and has created 28 regional parks and 227 miles of trails in Jefferson County since its inception.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.