Littleton task force IDs open space opportunities

Posted 3/15/12

Littleton officials are negotiating to buy at least two of the top five sites identified by the open-space task force as important to the city’s …

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Littleton task force IDs open space opportunities


Littleton officials are negotiating to buy at least two of the top five sites identified by the open-space task force as important to the city’s park and recreation system.

The task force, which has been meeting for about a year, presented its final report to city council March 13. It discusses potential uses for 15 parcels and recommends various actions, including possibly buying those ranked as priorities.

“It’s important for us to get a feel for what these parcels could be used for,” said task-force member John Ostermiller, a director on the South Suburban Parks and Recreation Board.

The city is currently negotiating to buy a six-acre site across County Line Road from Hampton Inn. Known as the Ohlson property, it borders Highlands Ranch on the south. Task-force members say part of it could be used as a dog park. Estimated cost is between $1 million and $2.5 million, according to the report.

Another priority site lies just north of Ohlson. Owned by an East Coast foundation, its availability is unknown at this time. The two sites together would provide more than 25 acres of natural open space, provide better access to the High Line Canal and hedge future development, according to the report.

The city is also in the process of acquiring the Ashbaugh/Lee Gulch property, a two-acre parcel directly north of Heritage High School that the city could pick up for less than $1,000, according to the report. Lee Gulch Trail runs right through it, and it serves to control flooding in the neighborhood.

A privately owned residential lot atop Jackass Hill is another important site, potentially serving as a trailhead for the High Line Canal. Finally, if the owner of Metro Mayflower moving company just north of Littleton Cemetery could be convinced to move, the property could be restored to open space and used as a trailhead for City Ditch.

Other sites the task force examined range from the giant Marathon property on South Broadway to the tiny State Land Board piece that could serve as extra parking for Buck Recreation Center and a trailhead for City Ditch. Norgren (the manufacturing firm near Broadway and Powers Avenue), the Carmelite Monastery adjacent to Littleton Museum and the Old Flying B Ranch on County Line east of Broadway are other notable examples.

The task force stresses that parcels will only be acquired from willing sellers. Conversely, just because a site is available doesn’t make it automatically appropriate for open space, said Will Singleton, the group’s mediator.

The task force took care to balance environmental and recreational opportunities with economic implications for the city, he said. In fact, members ranged from Tom Wooten, the “token commercial real-estate person,” to Bobbie Sheffield of South Metro Land Conservancy, the “token earth muffin.”

Councilmember Jim Taylor, who pushed for development interests to be represented on the task force and voted against its formation, called it an excellent report, noting the particular attention paid to trails and connectivity.

“If I had to choose one word to sum it up, I would say ‘opportunity,’” said Sheffield. “... We have the opportunity to put the icing on the cake here.”


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