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Castle Pines artist Sue Fraley paints a scene on the Sandstone Ranch near Larkspur in June 2018, as part of the “Capturing the Beauty of Open Land” art project. Local artists spent the week painting open spaces in Douglas County to raise money for the Douglas County Conservancy.

County budgets are detailed and complicated. For those who have the time, they offer a treasure trove of information. We get to peek at the wrapped presents under the tree and anticipate what new trail or park amenity will be built in the coming year.

In El Paso County, bathrooms will be improved in Bear Creek Park and Palmer Lake Recreation area. Perhaps not as exciting as new sports fields or playground equipment, but bathrooms are a very big deal for park users. I regularly hear many complaints about inadequate or locked bathrooms.

On the county’s southeast side at the new Kane Ranch open space, trailhead parking, a trail and yes a vault toilet will be constructed in 2020.

Next summer, the Rock Island Regional Trail trailhead in Falcon will get a new playground, better signage and improved parking lot. Also in Falcon, the 215-acre regional park will see improvements including an expanded trail system, additional playing field, playground, additional parking and restrooms if grants come through. Bear Creek Park will get new pickleball courts.

By 2020, we’ll know where the county’s new northern nature center will be built. The goal is to have it built and operational by 2023. Where the funding will come from remains in question.

Per capital investment in El Paso County parks, trails and nature center is about $2.72 per person per year. In Douglas County, residents will invest $3.3 million from their 2020 general fund for park maintenance. That’s $9 per person. They also have a County Open Space tax of .17% that allowed them to recently purchase the 20,000-acre Sandstone Ranch adjacent Pike National Forest. A trailhead and 5 miles of trail will be constructed in 2020.

I’m reminded of the scene in the movie “Oliver” when the hungry child says “please sir, I want some more.” Please county commissioners, could we increase that annual $2.72 to $3? We might get more bathrooms.

Davies is executive director of Trails and Open Space Coalition

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