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Partnering with a private organization could provide a mechanism to deliver the planned athletic fields from the master plan sooner, if the cost of their construction is paid by a private operator instead of through Town tax or fee revenue. The Town issued a request for proposals to explore this possibility, and a submission was received from Colorado Classic Baseball – a local tournament company that currently leases fields from the Town and has funds available to construct fields. The Town is now working to understand the proposal so questions can be answered and concerns heard.
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The 168-acre site is situated on the eastern edge of Castle Rock, along Castle Oaks Drive to the south, Arabella Drive to the west, Cherry Creek Trail to the east and McMurdo Gulch to the north.
Colorado Classic Baseball is proposing to construct six synthetic turf baseball fields, along with the option to construct an approximately 30,000-square-foot indoor all-sport facility, on approximately 20 acres of the 168-acre regional park site as part of a public-private partnership with the Town. The company is proposing to fund the field construction and provide space for Town athletics programs and leagues. The fields would also be available for other sports such as softball, flag football and soccer.
Nothing has been finalized. The Town is currently seeking public feedback on the proposal through Feb. 15. Staff will review the feedback and decide if the proposal should go to Town Council for consideration.
Richmond American Homes dedicated a portion of the site through the Town’s land dedication requirements. The Town purchased the remainder of the site from Richmond in 2005 to serve as a regional destination, much like Philip S. Miller Park. The property was purchased for regional park development due to its large size and flat terrain, which can accommodate athletic fields.
The first phase of the 168-acre regional park includes a 12-acre park that’s already being constructed. Residents requested that neighborhood-serving amenities, such as playgrounds, restrooms, pickleball courts, pavilions, bike features, a basketball court and lawn areas be included in the first phase. The Town followed through on that request, and these improvements will be complete in summer 2022.
The proposal from Colorado Classic Baseball is largely consistent with the park master plan, which can be found at CRgov.com/CobblestoneRanchPark.
The Town reached out to area residents in 2019 to begin the park master-planning process. The process involved several opportunities for public feedback. Once complete, the master plan was presented to Town Council for approval. Among other elements, the Cobblestone Ranch Park Master Plan includes four softball, two soccer and two baseball fields, with the potential for a recreation-based building. Within the plan, the fields are envisioned to be located along Castle Oaks Drive, away from existing homes, in response to public comments received during the planning process.
Colorado Classic Baseball is proposing to construct six baseball fields in the same area as the eight fields identified in the master plan, with the exception of two proposed fields east of the entry road. In the master plan, this area is shown as an orchard and parking. The proposed fields at this location are located at the greatest distance from nearby homes. The orchard and parking envisioned in the master plan could be accommodated to the north if fields are constructed there as proposed.
If six fields are constructed, over 120 undeveloped park acres would remain for other yet-to-be-developed master plan amenities. This area could also remain undeveloped.
Partnering with an organization is one way to deliver athletic fields at an earlier date. The Town has many partnership relationships that enable rich and robust amenities and programs. The ziplines and associated amenities operated at Philip S. Miller Park are an example of a public-private partnership that benefits the Town and residents.
The fields would be sized to accommodate other sports and would include movable fencing for softball. They would also be leased to youth soccer and flag football teams, similar to the Town’s current fields at Metzler Ranch Community Park. Metzler fields are approximately 275 feet to the outfield fences. Colorado Classic Baseball’s fields are proposed at 375 feet to the outfield fence, which would provide additional space for other sports. Colorado Classic Baseball has proposed a lower field rental rate for Castle Rock-based teams and would provide space for Town-run programs during the week.
If the Town decides to enter a partnership with Colorado Classic Baseball to construct the fields, they would still be designed to serve Castle Rock youth, to provide facilities and tournament options close to home. The fields would be under the company’s control, but they would provide field time to Castle Rock teams. One benefit to having the proposed fields in Town is that local teams would not be required to stay in hotels for tournaments, but away teams would be required to stay in Castle Rock hotels, bringing economic benefits to our community.
Lighted fields were included in the approved master plan; however, any proposed lighting would be required to meet the Town’s lighting ordinance, which requires full “cut-off” lighting.
Hours of operation would be consistent with the approved hours for all parks, which by Town law are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Ballfields are proposed adjacent to Castle Oaks Drive, and existing developed park amenities and would occupy around 20% of the property. With the proposal, over 120 acres of the park remain undeveloped, and over 200 acres of surrounding zoned open space, not including the Cherry Creek corridor, would be preserved.
New home construction throughout Cobblestone Ranch generated the $5.5 million to construct the neighborhood phase of the park that’s scheduled to open in summer 2022. Fees from future residential development outside of Cobblestone Ranch could fund additional master-planned amenities or other Town Parks and Recreation priorities.
Builders pay a park and recreation impact fee when they apply for a building permit, which ensures growth helps pay for growth-related impacts. Additional regional park-scale amenities will require additional funding and must compete with other priorities, such as new indoor recreation facilities or other neighborhood parks. Additional funds will be available in the future, but timing is undetermined.
The six proposed baseball fields would likely have a similar impact as the eight fields envisioned in the master plan. In fact, the master plan included two soccer fields, which are often divided into multiple fields for lower age groups, drawing more than two teams at a time onto each field. During baseball and softball play, only two teams occupy a field.
If the project enters the development review process, traffic studies would be completed, and Colorado Classic Baseball would be required to mitigate any impacts the project would cause.
The project, if approved, would provide adequate on-site parking. Space for temporary overflow parking is also available. If the proposal moves to the design stage, the development review process would require the design team to provide parking calculations for any proposed uses. A professional traffic engineer would confirm on-site parking requirements if the proposal moves to the design phase.
Property values are primarily driven by the market. However, a study of the impact of parks on property values over two decades found that parks and open space contributes to increased property values.
Reference: John L. Crompton (2005) The impact of parks on property values: empirical evidence from the past two decades in the United States, Managing Leisure, 10:4, 203-218, DOI: 10.1080/13606710500348060 Link to this article
Of the 168 acres in the park, the ballfields would require approximately 20 acres of land. The Town would own the land and provide a land lease to Colorado Classic Baseball.
Six ballfields and two soccer fields were included in the Regional Park Master Plan. The six baseball fields proposed by Colorado Classic Baseball can accommodate other sports.
Homes located off of Double Angel Road in Parker, directly adjacent to the Double Angel Ballpark, and homes surrounding Echo Park Stadium are currently valued in the $750,000 range. Metzler Ranch ballfields are located at the entrance to the Metzler Ranch subdivision and have homes valued at or above $750,000.
The Town would not enter into a partnership of this nature without an agreement that outlines terms including how the fields are to be used and when. Under any agreement, the Town would still own the property, and Colorado Classic Baseball would lease space from the Town and own its improvements. Such an agreement would be presented publicly to Town Council for consideration before the proposal could move forward.
The Town Police and Fire departments will need additional funding to meet their long-term staffing needs, and we want to listen to the community’s views about how we can best achieve this goal.
New parks are funded with impact fees, while the Police and Fire staffing is funded primarily through sales tax. The impact fee funds the Town uses to build new parks cannot be legally used to hire more fire and police staff.
Town Council will answer this question; however, 80% of the park would remain in public use. Kids using the proposed baseball fields are likely the same kids that would use Town-owned fields.
Colorado Classic Baseball would have priority and the organization would provide weekday space for Town programs.
The park and all amenities outside of the ballfields would remain public.
The Town would have the right to purchase the facility at a depreciated rate and or to approve any change in management.
Colorado Classic Baseball would not require stay to play for local teams. Local teams would receive discounted field reservations.
Town parks close at 11 p.m. Any use of lighting after that time is subject to citation by the Castle Rock Police Department.
If the proposal moves forward, the final design would address bus parking options.
The facility is intended for youth sports programming. Alcohol is not allowed in Town parks without a permit.
Colorado Classic Baseball and the Castle Rock Raptors have been in contact. The president of the Castle Rock Raptors can confirm that they will benefit tremendously from these facilities. Colorado Classic Baseball is also a locally grown company that partners with every High School and feeder school in Douglas County. Every resident in Castle Rock would have access to this complex and their children would grow up playing baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and more on these fields.