Residents in the Four Square Mile area can look forward to a new park in coming years, as Arapahoe County has acquired a 4.5-acre property for this purpose.
The county purchased the property, located at the corner of South Parker Road and East Mexico Drive, from a local landowner who approached the county with the idea over a year ago, said Shannon Carter, the county’s open spaces director.
“We had certainly identified the need for additional parks in this area, that's been on our radar for a long time – at least 10 or 15 years,” he said.
In 2015, the county conducted a Recreation Needs and Opportunities Assessment in the Four Square Mile area and found that 63% of study respondents said the importance and availability of parks and recreation opportunities was “essential.” Carter said they identified a deficit of parks, trails and open spaces in the area at that time.
The property cost $1.5 million, which came from the county’s open space sales and use tax.
To turn a plot of land into a community park, several steps have to happen. First, crews will complete demolition and cleanup work to prepare the space, which has been used as a horse property and material storage space for a landscape company.
“There are a number of different buildings that had been on the property for quite a number of years… and some are in pretty poor condition,” Carter said. “(There is) a lot of debris, overbrush, several places are overgrown.”
During the cleanup and demolition period, the space will be closed to the public for safety reasons. Carter said. He predicts community members may have limited access to the space in the summer of 2024, after the bulk of the demolition is done.
The county will conduct an extensive public outreach process to develop design ideas for the park, as they have done for past park developments including Long’s Pine Grove and Cheyenne-Arapaho Park.
“We figure out what we can and what we can’t do from an access standpoint, from a community standpoint,” Carter said.
In past community conversations surrounding park design, Carter said people have suggested community gardens, picnic pavilions, playgrounds and dog parks.
He said the overall cost of cleanup and development of the park is difficult to predict because it depends on what infrastructure the community wants to see. He estimates it will cost between $3 million and $5 million, based on the size of the space and costs of developing the county’s recent parks. That number excludes the cost of the land itself.
County spokesperson Anders Nelson said the new land acquisition aligns with the county’s goal of being community-focused.
“Building parks, it promotes a thriving community and it supports opportunities for physical and mental health for our citizens, which is very important,” he said. “And one of our values is accessibility, and ways we can do that is providing a service, like access to more parks. We want them to be welcoming, safe and fun areas for our citizens to enjoy.”