Riverdale Regional Park Master Plan– Framing Cultural Tradition, Ecology, and Public Benefit

By: Ashley Allis and Nicole Rebeck

Adams County has long been a thriving agricultural landscape within Colorado’s plains, and agriculture remains a critical component of the local economy. The county is exceedingly experiencing development and growth pressures from the City of Denver, 20 miles away, and its ever-expanding suburbs. With these growth pressures and urbanizing population comes a widespread threat to rural agricultural production and character of living, but also a great opportunity to serve a regional population of nearly 3 million people through highlighting and exposing residents to the regional heritage and natural and cultural assets that the locality provides.

The Adams County Regional Park and Fairgrounds, (now known as the Riverdale Regional Park), has occupied the master plan site since 1965, providing a critical community connection and physical space for residents of the surrounding population to gather, learn, share and celebrate the traditions of rural living and the preservation of western heritage. However, the significance of the “county fairgrounds” is rapidly evolving throughout the United States. From the traditions of blue ribbons, tractor pulls, and funnel cakes to the growth in educational outreach supporting technology in agricultural production, the advancement of youth STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) programming, and a growing and thriving Colorado Hispanic population; these regional sites are paramount to the communities they serve.

This master planning process required a two-tiered approach to ensure the greatest community and civic benefit through each capital improvement within the Riverdale Regional Park, both as a park and as a facility for hosting events year-round. Throughout the years, the site has expanded its footprint through land acquisition; adding significant open space as the gravel mining operations that line the adjacent South Platte River are reclaimed and the site ecology restored. The on-going evolution of the physical boundaries of the site, combined with changing user needs and the aging facilities, dictated the need for a guiding document and unified vision on how to best use the park into the future. 

The master plan is a result of a thorough analysis of market research and demand, benchmark studies of comparable facilities, a financial plan and budget study, a public outreach campaign, and land use analysis. These factors collectively influenced a master plan that can be phased and budgetarily scaled while allowing the facilities to continue to serve historic users such as 4-H, farm auctions and riding events, as well as corporate events, family reunions, and much more into the future. Through the master plan, the Riverdale Regional Park and Fairgrounds will improve local water resources, support healthy and continuous habitat corridors, continue to serve the regional community while promoting additional visitation, provide a variety of trail connectivity and recreational experiences, and honor the county’s agricultural legacy.



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