Arapahoe County today awarded more than $24 million in open space funding to cities, towns and partner agencies, enhancing local parks, trails and open space offerings across the region. The annual open space awards ceremony recognizes how the County’s only sales and use tax, which is solely dedicated to our area’s open spaces, positively impacts the quality of life for residents.
Fifty percent of the annual sales and use tax revenue - reauthorized by voters in 2021 - is shared directly back to participating cities and towns using a population-based formula. Since the program’s inception, more than $278 million has funded playground and park improvements, trail connections, and preserved acres of open space.
“Today we celebrate the power of partnerships in improving the communities we serve,” said Commissioner Nancy Jackson, Chair of the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners. “Together with our agency partners, we can do more and be more for the people of Arapahoe County than we could ever do on our own. Our residents depend on our outdoor spaces for physical and mental health, and I hope these funds will enable our partners to keep critical projects moving forward.”
In addition to Shareback funds, the Board awarded 17 project-specific grants ranging from $15,000 to $500,000 to 12 local cities, towns and special districts. Twelve percent of the tax revenue is dedicated to a competitive grant program, which is evaluated by an advisory board comprised of local residents. This year, the county’s $5 million investment is leveraged by more than $3.3 million in matching funds provided by the grant recipients.
When these projects are completed, communities across the County will benefit from improvements at 10 parks across the metro area, nearly one mile of new trail in Aurora, and five park or trail planning projects that will guide the way for future improvements. Details about the 2022 grant awards are below.
The ceremony also awarded its annual Progress Takes Flight stewardship award to the Open Space Sales and Use Tax Reauthorization Committees, honoring their work to secure the future of the Arapahoe County Open Spaces program. They regularly met to review options and data for consideration of a tax extension—all based on public input and feedback from municipal partners. Ballot Issue 1A passed with more than 76% of the vote, continuing the County-wide investment in perpetuity and reaffirming residents’ resounding support for the Open Spaces Program.
“We’re grateful for the work of the Committees, staff and our voters, for recognizing what an important role these operations and amenities play in sustaining and improving the County’s quality of life,” Jackson said. “To healthy lands, healthy communities, and healthy people!”
2022 grant recipients:
To learn more about the Arapahoe County Open Spaces program, including current projects, properties and upcoming events, visit www.arapahoegov.com/openspaces