Arapahoe County Fairgrounds Park - Nature Play!

Aurora, CO

Project Background

Arapahoe County commissioned Design Concepts to update their Fairgrounds Master Plan, and incorporate a park into the facility. There has been an increased public interest in getting back to our heritage ways of life. Events such as farmers' markets, crafts and home goods fairs, gardening and urban homesteading have been appearing more frequently in our environment. We felt there would be a particular interest from the public in a facility that blends the worlds of suburban parks with fairground activities. Where the two worlds meet we find nature play. The County was on board with grasping the movement to bring kids back to nature, and this was the site to accomplish it. 

We met with the County Commissioners, Open Spaces Department, Fairgrounds advisory committees, took tours of nearby historic sites and preserved natural areas, and came up with a Fairground/Park site that is the first of its kind.

The Fairground aspect of this site includes all the basic facilities needed for major fair events: rodeo and riding arenas, exhibition spaces, a midway, RV and trailer accommodations, and flexible events buildings. The park will include a 10 Acre natural play area with an active stream. The stream is fed by an aquifer which is pumped to the surface and used not only as a play and aesthetic element but for all of the site's irrigation demand. The site is primarily covered in native grasses, but also includes some turf grass for the heavier demand events brought by the fair.

Construction journal

7/1/16 The grand opening was a huge success. There was an fantastic turnout and the County provided all kinds of activities and experiences to help encourage exploration of the site. Check out the top video at the right for a recap of the day and how the site looks today.  

6/23/2016 The items from the punch list are complete. Now the site needs to fill in with vegetation before it looks complete. The upper pond is full of water and the lower pond is about halfway full. The site is being prepped and made ready for the big Grand Opening this Saturday, the 25th. 

5/11/2016 We are doing a punch list walk today. We will inspect the site looking for outstanding items needing to be completed. The majority of work is complete. The most exciting aspect is water flowing down the stream feature. Also, with water now flowing to the lower pond the irrigation system is now operable. Until now the site has been irrigated with a temporary water source. It's now turned over to the permanent system. We are calling the site Substantially Complete today, yea!

4/20/2016 Snow! There's about 8" of snow on the ground which has slowed progress. It will take a few days of dry weather before anyone can set foot on the muddy site again. Some of the snow melt is running down the stream so we are able to see water flowing down this feature for the first time, exciting! 

3/10/2016 The focus is on finishing the water storage system. The vault in installed and backfilled, and electrical is being connected. The site is being seeded with native grass and hydromulched. 

2/25/2016 A warm, dry start to 2016 has allowed them to make great progress on the construction. The irrigation pump system and vault is complete and backfilled, they just need to connect the electrical and plumbing. Light poles and fixtures along the road are in. The site is being scarified in preparation of seeding the disturbed areas. The hub of activity is at the water storage system which consists of a number of components. 

1/22/2015 It was decided to put the project on sleep mode due to weather. Even though we have long breaks in snow, the moisture holds in the ground for extended periods of time making access and construction very difficult. Some work will continue over the next couple of months as weather allows, but the majority of work will pick up again in the spring to finish the site. The buck and rail fencing was installed this week around the upper pond. 

12/2/2015 Fabrication of the wood structures is nearly complete. The footbridges and picnic tables will be located in the field. A small leak was discovered in the water storage vault, but will be repaired soon. 

11/25/2015 The secondary antique windmill for the beginning of the stream feature is delivered, footing will be installed soon. Snow and ice is slowing progress but they continue working as best as they can.  

11/3/2015 Construction of the water storage system is underway with the main vault being formed and poured this week. The stepping logs at the stream play area are being set and properly aligned. 

10/7/2015 The picnic shelters are being installed at the main plaza, and planting begin to fill the area. Sod is installed at the Central green. It's amazing how much plantings can transform a site. 

9/2/2015 New access to the park site (the West Road) has been paved and looks great! New electrical hookups at the RV parking lot are being installed. Single track trails throughout the passive areas are being laid out in the field to maximize the user experience. 

8/5/2015 The lining at the ponds is installed. Caisson footings for a large windmill will be installed soon. Electrical work for the park site is about to begin. 

7/1/2015 New turn lanes being installed on Quincy Ave. The base course for new pavement is being installed. The Central Green plaza is looking good with seatwalls and decorative gabions being fabricated and installed.

06/03/2015 Most of the earthwork is complete and they have moved into other aspects of construction. They are focused on the plaza in the Central Green space in order to have it ready for the Fair this summer. 

03/15/2015 Earthwork continues. The majority of the large scale land forms are complete, and the site is looking great. 

02/01/2015 Earthwork has begun. 

12/31/2014 Drilling for the well is complete. They are designing the well casing and will begin water development next. The development process looks at the overall yield and quality of the water. 

11/15/2014 The drilling operations have begun. The driller is on site and is setting up for the deep water well. The weather has turned cold and the ground is a little frozen, but they remain on schedule. 

Phase 1 of the park construction is under way and will continue through the summer 2015. This first phase includes: drilling for a deep water well, earthwork for major park topography,  a central green gathering and event space, irrigation, ponds, plazas, roads, lighting, parking and landscaping. There's a lot going on and we'll keep you up to speed at this site.