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Douglas County considers new park despite pushback from neighbors

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After years of open space in Douglas County sitting empty, the county is now looking into the possibility of putting in a new park.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — After open space in Douglas County sat empty for years, the county is now looking into the possibility of putting in a new park. 

That idea has many people in the community feeling frustrated, worried that they’ll lose a wild area home to animals like elk and golden eagles for a park they don’t want. 

Officials with Douglas County say they don’t have any formal proposals for that area, and that they’re only looking into what they could do. 

“If I had it my way, I would say just completely leave it alone,” said Shama DuBose of Highlands Ranch. 

The future of this chunk of land has community members in Highlands Ranch like DuBose feeling frustrated and left in the dark.

“I think my biggest concern, though, is the parcel of land that they’re talking about. We have 100 to 150 elk that roam through here, we have golden eagles that nest and just as recently as last summer, they were producing eggs. So we have wildlife that you just can’t replicate,” DuBose said. “This isn’t just any open piece of land.”

DuBose and many of her neighbors have seen plans that would take part of this 200-acre backcountry wilderness area and put in a big park.

“We have plenty of ballparks in Highlands Ranch, we have plenty of swimming pools. That’s what they’re proposing,” DuBose said. 

Douglas County Community Development Director Terence Quinn said the county isn’t considering any formal proposals, just considering doing something with the land.

“No decisions are made there,” Quinn said. “No decisions on funding are made there and we are not implementing any plan. We are asking essentially to make a plan.”

Quinn said this area of HRCA Backcountry Wilderness Area has been designated as a park and there’s a lot of interest in doing more with that space.  

Douglas County reports five groups have reached out to see if the county will partner with them on putting in sports facilities in that area.

“We’ve been sitting on that for quite a while and there’s a lot of people saying we need certain things or would like to see certain things with it. So, we’re going to consider those,” Quinn said. 

Before anything can happen, the parks advisory board will need to request funding for a feasibility study to look at the impact to the land.  That will look at the impact to everything from resources in the ground, the cost to put trails or ball fields in, even the wildlife so many community members are worried about. 

“Absolutely. We have to look at wildlife, folks have brought up eagles before, elks, and then there’s lots of other animals, critters running around out there. So, we want to take a study and look at that,” Quinn said. 

“I think that any kind of construction that you do out here, laying concrete, that kind of stuff, you risk driving out the wildlife that exists there,” DuBose said. 

DuBose said she and her family will be at the Parks Advisory Board meeting Wednesday evening, urging them to leave this area untouched.

“Yeah, we’re definitely going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re heard,” DuBose said. 

Ultimately, Quinn said whether the county puts in a park will be up to the county commissioners, and any action on the project won’t come quickly. 

“It’s not anything that’s going to take one month to do, it’s going to be years probably before we get anything finished if ever,” Quinn said. “The board may not want to fund anything.” 

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Douglas County considers new park despite pushback from neighbors
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