Magazine article Parks & Recreation

From Trash to Treasure

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

From Trash to Treasure

Article excerpt

Lottery dollars convert a landfill into leisure space.

It wasn't Colorado's three-year drought that caused South Suburban Parks and Recreation to pursue the creation of an artificially turfed regional sports park. It was the park's former use as a landfill.

It couldn't be regularly watered because it could create a liability for underground water pollution, and increase methane gas production of the decomposing waste that lies buried beneath the park.

When it was first used in the mid-1960s, Arapahoe County's landfill was far south of Denver's metropolitan area. By 1985, the landfill became full and closed down. In the years since then, however, neighborhoods and businesses have opened on all sides.

Its location with a view of the Rocky Mountains would otherwise have made the site prime real estate. Because of concerns associated with water pollution and methane gas production, converting the land to other uses was problematic. In addition, the water and sewer utilities necessary to make the parcel viable for traditional uses were not possible.

Meanwhile, the population in the South Suburban District more than tripled in 40 years, and continues to grow. According to the district's registration counts, participation in its youth sports programs has increased more than 270 percent since 1989, creating the need for new athletic fields.

Converting the 85-acre landfill into athletic fields was realized by quality partnerships with Arapahoe County, which provided a lease on the property for $1 a year; a $3 million general obligation bond for a laundry list of capital construction projects that funded the bulk of the construction for the sports park; and the district used $150,000 of its share of Colorado lottery proceeds to complete the project.

In 2003, South Suburban received nearly $684,000 in lottery Conservation Trust Fund (CTF) revenues. …

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