The Art of Placemaking
An approved master plan for Riverdale Regional Park will bring new recreational and cultural opportunities to Adams County.
An innovative approach to improving a neighborhood, city or region, placemaking is a way of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and overall well being.
It’s a collaborative process that inspires the people of the community to come together to rethink and reimagine the potential of what a particular public space can be. Beyond the design of a space, placemaking pays special attention to the physical, cultural and social identities that make up a community and puts plans in action that supports the future.
In Adams County, there is no greater example of placemaking at work than Riverdale Regional Park and Fairgrounds. Currently the park has a variety of wildlife and recreational opportunities and houses the Adams County Fairgrounds, Adams County Museum and two 18-hole golf courses.
On April 3, 2018, the Adams County Board of Commissioners adopted a comprehensive master plan that was approved to meet the demands of the growing population. The Adams County Parks & Open Space Department, working in conjunction with a consultant team headed by Design Workshop, finalized the plan and adopted the new name of Riverdale Regional Park and Fairgrounds, which will now encompass more than 1,197 acres of land stretching from 120th Pkwy. and Riverdale Rd. to 136th Ave. and Brighton Rd.
Current/Future Riverdale Regional Park
The master planning process has been a collaborative effort to ensure the Adams County community receives the greatest benefit through each capital improvement within the park. The site has expanded over the years with new land acquisition, granting the park significant additional open space. The ongoing need for physical evaluation of site boundaries, a growing community with changing needs and aging facilities resulted in the need for a unified approach to the future of the park.
“As the new Director of Parks & Open Space for Adams County, I am thrilled to work for an agency that so values Parks and Open Space,” said Byron Fanning, Director of Adams County Parks & Open Space.
“The County Manager, Ray Gonzales and the County Commissioners are very supportive of Parks and Open Space and have made it clear that Parks and Open Space are a priority service for the county. Having the Open Space Sales Tax is a significant asset that helps fund Park and Open Space projects throughout the county in unincorporated and municipal portions of the county. This 25 cents per $100 sales tax was approved in 1999 and we are currently celebrating 20 years of this tax in Adams County.”
The new approved masterplan for the Riverdale Regional Park and Fairgrounds will be executed in phases that will allow the facilities to continue historic uses like 4-H, farm auctions, riding events and corporate events while partnering with exciting new organizations to bring cultural experiences to the space, along with new trail connectivity and additional recreation.
“We’re partnering with several organizations that receive money from FCMDR, a Colorado state foundation that is for science and cultural facilities. We’re looking to work with several large partners through that agency that would bring culture to the site as well as the active and recreation uses,” shared Fanning.
Also included in the masterplan is the design of a 52,000 square-foot multi-purpose facility that will replace the indoor arena that was removed in 2015. This new facility will provide new programming opportunities across community, and will host equestrian shows, car shows, craft shows and live concerts.
One of the larger potential new partners for Riverdale Regional Park is the Denver Botanic Gardens.
“The Denver Botanic Gardens is looking at opening another satellite site here in Riverdale Park,” said Fanning.
“Not unlike their Chatfield Farms site, it would be a satellite location in addition to their flagship site in downtown Denver. They are working with us to discover what a partnership could look like at the park, as they would occupy a sizeable plot of land close to Riverdale between 120th and 124th Streets. The project is still in the planning stages but there is a great deal of excitement on both sides of the table.”
In addition to the Denver Botanic Gardens, the park is looking at partnerships with the Colorado Railroad Museum and other organizations that can further enrich the space with cultural, science and history programming.
Riverdale Regional Park will also be the new home of the new 45,000 square-foot Adams County Animal Shelter, which is currently under construction. Fanning shared that moving from a more industrial setting into the park is a much better setting for people coming to adopt a pet and for the pets themselves to be in a more natural environment.
For over fifty years the park has served the community with its abundance of wildlife and recreational activities. When this master plan reaches completion, the park will nearly double in its current size, bringing with it ample recreational and educational opportunities.
The finished park will also be a huge incentive for employers. “It’s always a big draw to businesses to have active, healthy places for their employees to recreate and to have culture and arts at their fingertips as well,” said Fanning.
The project is currently underway, and is in the phase of searching for those key partnerships that are just the right fit for Adams County.
“We’re looking at a property around the size of Central Park,” said Fanning. “We are essentially trying to create a destination park that could give us the same kind of feel. Once the project is complete, the space will be bigger than Central Park, so if we do the kinds of things that bring the Adams County community together, we will have something special and unique you won’t find in another community.”