Woodland Park Secures $500,000-plus Grant for Open Space Purchase

Trevor Phipps

The Woodland Park city staff and members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) have diligently pursued a project in recent months that many said was a “once in a generation opportunity.”

Well, now this opportunity has arrived, and Woodland Park has hit the open space jackpot bigtime, becoming one of the big winners of annual awards announced recently by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)

Earlier this year, the Woodland Park City Council voted to approve the purchase of 120 acres on the southeast side of the city to incorporate into the city’s outdoors park and trail system Then, it was announced by city and GOCO officials that the Woodland Park was approved for the grant they applied for to secure the property and keep the trails running through the land open for public use.

Parks and Recreation Director Cindy Keating told the council that Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) approved a $520,000-plus grant to purchase the land and to create the Avenger Open Space area.


The grant will pay for the majority of the land purchase with other funds coming from the city and donations from the public. According to city officials, the deal on the purchase has not yet been closed as the city is still working through a few more steps to make it happen.


According to PRAB board members, ever since the idea to obtain the land for open space came up, there has been nothing but positive feedback from community members and elected representatives. During the approval stage, the purchase of the land passed unanimously by city council, the PRAB and the GOCO Board.


The Parks and Recreation Director said that last month the GOCO board of directors approved its largest ever slate of investments for recreation, conservation and outdoor access projects totaling more than $117 million. “This is the largest GOCO grant the city has ever submitted and also ever been awarded,” Keating said. “To this date, the city has received over $2.2 million in GOCO grant funding.”

The GOCO funds were created in the early 1990s, when voters approved a constitutional amendment that invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. In the past, both Cripple Creek and Woodland Park have fared well with GOCO funds.

Councilmember Robert Zuluaga asked Keating at a recent meeting to outline the hold-up in having the city close on the land purchase. Keating said that city staff has gone through a number of hurdles to purchase the land, including securing funding and making sure that all of the mining claims on the property had been conveyed.


“Our next hurdle, which we are almost ready to sign with them, is with the National Forest Service and getting some public access,” Keating explained. “I think we will be getting this very, very soon.”


The closing date for the purchase was slated for last Friday, but questions still exist over the public access piece of the open space venture. Eventually, the property will then officially be opened up to the public once the deal goes through and the city owns the land.