Resident feedback on parks, proposed ballot measures
Nearly 150 residents provided feedback to the City of Castle Pines about upcoming parks and open space projects during a pair of open houses in early August.
The open houses – the first on August 2 at the Castle Pines North Metro District (CPNMD) headquarters and the second on August 9 at The Exchange Coffee House in The Canyons – afforded residents the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the planned expansion of Coyote Ridge Park and the creation of the future 74-acre Soaring Hawk Park.
Attendees also received information about two separate proposed ballot measures from the City for this November’s election related to funding for parks and recreation and road construction. The City conducted further outreach at the Party in the Park event on August 12.
The exercises at the open houses included dot-voting on preferred park amenities, a park survey, and a parks and recreation game board that allowed people to build their own park using decals. The most requested amenity for Soaring Hawk Park was a swimming pool.
“For some of the community, it is relevant because they don’t have access to a swimming pool at all,” said Mayor Tracy Engermann, who attended both open houses and Party in the Park. “Some HOAs have outdoor pools, but it depends on which part of the community you live in.”
The City assumed control of parks and open space earlier this year from CPNMD, including Coyote Ridge Park, for which the City purchased 10 acres of adjacent land for the purposes of expansion. The City is also overseeing the development of Soaring Hawk Park, which will sit on land allocated to the City as part of the development process for The Canyons.
“I believe anyone who took the time to come to the open houses left with some of the answers they were looking for and are more aware of what’s happening in the City and had the opportunity to have their voices heard about what amenities they want,” said City Manager Michael Penny.
The City and CPNMD have mutually agreed upon a proposed plan to transfer parks and recreation funding in the form of mills already allocated for such purposes. Essentially, since the City has taken over maintenance and management of parks and open spaces, it would begin collecting funding currently generated by the 12 mills assessed by CPNMD.
City staff is in the process of securing the same type of agreement with smaller metro districts, and Penny and Engermann believe it is possible to finalize those before the election, during which voters would be asked to approve the change. The result of the funding reallocation would result in no net increase in mills, which are collected via property tax.
The other proposed ballot measure is a one-percent increase in sales tax to fund much-needed road construction; the road tax would generate roughly $1.7 million annually and expire in 20 years. A large portion of the City’s current annual budget goes toward roads, leaving little else for other projects it wants to pursue.
“Because we pay everything from the general fund, it’s challenging to provide the additional amenities people are asking for, especially with recreation,” Engermann said. “With a budget of $20 million, it can only go so far, and the cost of materials and labor has risen so quickly; and with costs going up, doing the road work sooner will result in overall savings for taxpayers,” the mayor said. “The problem is not going to go away.”
Engerman pointed out that even with a one-percent increase in sales tax, residents and visitors would still pay less than most other municipalities in the area. The current sales tax rate is 6.75 percent, of which 2.75 percent goes to the City. There is no City sales tax on groceries.
By Chris Michlewicz; photo courtesy of the City of Castle Pines