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By J. Patrick O’Leary

Mountair Park and the border area between Edgewater and Two Creeks neighborhood may be getting better lighting and a host of outdoor recreation programs next year, thanks to a coalition of community organizations and local governments.

To kick-start the project, Jefferson County Open Space will be applying for a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado’s Inspire Initiative, which aims to connect youth and their families with the outdoors through the work of collaborative coalitions working in communities across Colorado. The money – a couple million dollars – will be used to create a recreational model using “programs, pathways and place,” according to Avery Scheuch, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist with Jefferson County Open Space.

Open Space is one of about 20 project partners, which also includes the City of Lakewood, seeking to make east-central Jeffco a priority for improvements.

“Priority number one is making the park [Mountair] feel safe,” said Scheuch. That includes investment in infrastructure – new lighting, for example – to make it an attractive place for those who live within a 10- to 15-minute walk.

Investments will also be made arts and a host of other programs, connected to the new Edgewater Civic Center.

“One of the cool things planned is a gear library – fishing poles, etc.,” she explained. Open Space has been doing community outreach for the past year to determine what residents want.

The City of Lakewood was looking into “pioneering” an urban ranger or naturalist program if grant funds become available, she added.

“We realized there’s this area of the county that’s underserved,” said Scheuch. “So we’re trying to shift that paradigm.”

The focus area stretches from Wadsworth to Sheridan, in a corridor north of West 6th Avenue and south of Arvada.

“It includes Crown Hill Park, yes, but not much is offered there, either,” she said. “So we decided to focus on this area because it has the least amount of resources focused on the outdoors.”

Scheuch said the grant application for the GOCO grant will be submitted this month, with an decision expected in November.

“If we get the GOCO grant, great, but if not, we’re getting a little more creative,” she said. Open Space will look for funding elsewhere to pursue the plan.

Until the funds are secured, Open Space is working on other programs. It is partnering with GOCO’s Generation Wild Campaign, which encourages children to spend more time outdoors and connect with nature. Targeted at young families, its “100 Things to do Before You’re 12” checklist contains activities easy and hard, from digging up worms and climb a tree to climbing a 14’er and building a snow cave. The list can be downloaded from https://generationwild.com.