Open Space Program History
In 1985, when development pressures were increasing, Westminster passed its first open space sales tax, making Westminster the second city in Colorado, after Boulder, to establish an open space program funded by municipal sales tax.
Since 1985, the 0.25 percent (2.5 cents on a $10 purchase) sales tax has been extended by voters three times: once in 1989, with half of sales tax revenues dedicated to parks and recreation improvements, again in 1996 when the citizens also authorized the city to issue $26 million of bonds to fund additional open space purchases, recreation facility construction and park development and most recently, in 2006 when voters approved an additional bond sale of up to $20 million.
These past 20 years, the city has taken giant steps to preserve the natural lands in the community and construct recreational amenities. Approximately 2,850 acres of natural open space have been preserved in the city. More than 600 acres of parks and 85 miles of off-road trails have been developed, compared to approximately 37 miles of off-road trail miles in the City of Boulder.
Open space has been acquired to protect view corridors, provide buffers between development zones, protect sensitive wildlife habitat, preserve open, rural landscapes, protect creek and irrigation canal corridors, and for use as trail corridors and passive recreational opportunities. Regional, community and neighborhood parks are accessible in all neighborhoods for our citizens.
Facts about Westminster Open Space
The City of Westminster Open Space Program has preserved approximately 2,850 acres of natural open space throughout the city (about 13 percent of the city's land area), including the preservation of major creek corridors such as Big Dry Creek, Walnut Creek and Little Dry Creek. These are linear corridors that stretch for miles. In the Big Dry Creek corridor alone, the city has acquired 872 acres of open space. In total, the city and its neighboring jurisdictions are preserving more than 16,000 acres in Boulder, Broomfield and Jefferson counties to our west.
The City of Westminster has thousands of acres of open space and parkland in the western portion of the city. Standley Lake Regional Park is 2,327 acres of lake, eagle habitat, trails and spectacular views to and from the lake. Jefferson County Open Space funds were used for the acquisition of the properties that comprise the park. The city manages the park. To the north and west of Standley Lake Regional Park, the city has preserved more than 1,000 acres of natural open space called the Colorado Hills Open Space. Colorado Hills stretches from Simms Street all the way to Indiana Street. A trail head and off-leash dog park is located on the west side of Simms Street south of 108th Avenue.
Beyond Colorado Hills to the west of Indiana is the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. This 6,250-acre wildlife refuge was previously the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant (learn more about the plant cleanup). The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These lands will allow future connections from the Westminster open space properties from Indiana Street on the east, Highway 128 on the north and Highway 93 on the west.
North of Colorado Hills is the City and County of Broomfield Open Space, including 735 acres surrounding Great Western Reservoir. North of the future Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is the City of Boulder's 1,000-acre Southern Grassland Open Space. West of Highway 93, the City of Boulder has preserved 1,000 acres in the northwest corner of Highway 93 and Highway 72, and Jefferson County has preserved 2,807 acres along the foothills and the mountain backdrop included in the Coal Creek Canyon Open Space, including the Ransom-Edwards Homestead Ranch.
The City of Boulder Open Space Program was the first publicly funded preservation program in the state. Jefferson County Open Space Program came shortly thereafter when it was approved by the voters in 1972. The City of Westminster Open Space Program followed as the second city in the state to create such a tax-based preservation program. The results can be seen as you look west from anywhere in the city.