Arapahoe County distributes Open Space funds

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With more than 70 acres of park space as a backdrop, the Arapahoe County commissioners distributed $12 million in open-space sales tax revenues to local cities, towns and eligible special districts during the Open Spaces Shareback and Grant award ceremony, held each June.

Awards ranging from $7,000 to $5.9 million and were shared among 12 cities, towns and special districts, based on population.

“Arapahoe County is home to some of the best parks, trails and recreational areas in

the Denver metro area,” Commissioner Rod Bockenfeld, who serves as board chair, said at the June 28 event. “These amenities are what make our county so special, and thanks to the open-space tax, they continue to get better each year.”

The City of Centennial received $2.09 million.

“There are several neighborhood improvement projects we’re looking at, many of which are with our partners such as South Suburban Parks and Rec,” said Allison Wittern, city spokesperson. “Other projects we’re looking at also include improvements to Centennial Center Park, as well as some trail improvements, too.”

The Plains Conservation Center and West Arapahoe Conservation District received the prestigious “Our Progress Takes Flight Stewardship” award, which recognizes an individual, local government or organization demonstrating leadership, cooperation and stewardship that ensures outdoor conservation and protection.

Both were recognized for working together to protect more than 10,000 acres of rangeland along the edge of Aurora and in the West Bijou Basin through a series of land acquisitions, master planning and permanent conservation easements.

Since the program’s inception in 2004, the Arapahoe County Open Space program has distributed more than $85 million, conserved more than 31,000 acres of open space, built more than 51 miles of new trails and created and enhanced neighborhood and regional parks.

Funding for projects is made possible through the voter-approved Arapahoe County open-space sales and use tax, which returns 50 percent of the annual tax revenue to incorporated cities and towns to enhance local parks, trails, recreation and open space.

During the November 2011 election, residents voted to continue the Arapahoe County Open Space program that extends the quarter-penny sales and use tax to Dec. 31, 2023.

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