Master Plan Recommendations
The community open space is one of the most defining features of RVMD, as it functions well today and is loved by the community. In almost all cases, it is a reason why people have decided to live here. To reinforce the critical role open space plays in the community, the recommendations focus on: retaining its open space character and fundamental elements, strengthening its role through selective enhancements that improve the natural ecology and drainage function, and providing pleasant user experiences by making areas more accessible and celebrating the natural qualities of open space. The major areas of focus identified by the community include:
- Providing new access and paths along the water, such as Little Willow Creek and the ponds in the central open space area.
- Adding new opportunities for seating, shade, and shelter.
- Increasing and enhancing native vegetation to create a healthier ecological habitat and decreasing demands for maintenance.
Little Willow Creek Greenway – General Improvements
As the main feature of the open space network, Little Willow Creek provides an important drainage function and establishes a large habitat corridor that is both celebrated by the residents and critical to local wildlife. Retaining the creek’s drainage function should remain a priority. In addition, there is a community desire to bring people closer to the water by adding new access points and side paths, and offering educational opportunities for children to learn about native landscape and vegetation. Specific recommendations include:
- Providing improved seating and shade along the creek so residents have more options to sit, take breaks, and enjoy the natural open space scenery. Although there are some benches for moments to rest and relax, the trail along the creek lacks enough seating and shade. Locations for seating should take advantage of existing trees and views as much as possible. When exposed to the sun, small shade structures should be constructed or benches should be located along edges of tree stands where there is the potential for cooler microclimate conditions.
- Construct new trails, soft paths, and access points to areas along the ponds and creek.
- New access points along the edges of the Upper Pond. These can be designed and implemented with any improvements to the pond edges or existing spillway between the Upper and Lower Pond.
- Soft paths and access points along the south and east edge of the Community Park Pond to allow residents to enjoy the shoreline ecology, flora and fauna.
Little Willow Creek – Upper and Lower Pond Crossing and Spillway/Embankment
The Upper and Lower Pond crossing provides a direct and important connection between the eastern and western neighborhoods. The path is an interesting user experience because the path crosses between the two largest water bodies. Although the area is aesthetically pleasing, the engineered ponds and embankment need to be improved due to failing sidewalk areas and erosion control. The future improvements will provide an opportunity to enhance the connection and edges of the Upper Pond, so they provide more access, enhanced natural edges and improved hydrological functions that work with the seasonal flows through the ponds and Little Willow Creek. Specific improvements include:
- Improvements to the sidewalk and spillway between the upper and lower ponds.
- Modifications to the embankment to create a more natural edge with viewing and access to the pond.
- Dredging and reshaping the edge of the pond to support natural ecology and create a less engineered character with improved access and better ecological habitat.
- Constructing new trails and paths to access points along the edges of the water.
Rampart Range Road Linear Open Space
The Linear Open Space along the east side of Rampart Range Road reinforces the openness of RVMD and provides an opportunity to highlight the natural plantings and landscape of the grasslands of the Chatfield Basin, and potential location for community gardens. The success of the established grasses and open landscape should be expanded to include selective landscape improvements that promote additional enhancements, including native and low-water plant species that reinforce the openness and scenic qualities of the linear open space. The addition of selected areas of plant groupings that are clustered will create planting layers that will improve the visual experience for both drivers and pedestrian while retaining RVMD’s commitment to sustainability and low maintenance. Specific recommendations include:
- Improvements to planting and landscape areas near the intersections to create larger planting areas and more extensive massing of plants into larger clusters to match the scale and vast size of the grassland landscape. Planting areas ranging from 100’ to 250’ in length and 10’ to 40’ wide will provide the greatest visual effect and be experienced at the scale of the road. Plants should focus on high desert species and large clusters of plantings such as sages, serviceberry, buffaloberry, and prairie-style wildflowers that create seasonal color.
- Tree replacement or new tree plantings should be located near existing trees to create clusters of trees and species rather than in a linear row along the edge of the road. Typical linear street tree planting along Rampart Range Road is not appropriate for the area because of the difficult growing conditions. Furthermore, the formal arrangement of trees equally spaced apart does not reflect the area’s natural ecology and tree growth patterns.
- Potential location for community garden along trail, closer to the homes. Consider use of planting buffers between community garden and Rampart Range Rd to create a sense of place, and locate community garden closer to the trail connecting to Crystal Lake Ct. and Bison Pl. for operational access.
Small Neighborhood Open Spaces
The small neighborhood open spaces in the community include small parcels along major roads or next to homes that serve as detention areas, or unprogrammed native grasses spaces with limited or no improvements. Due to regular maintenance, the spaces do not pose a problem today. However, based on community feedback, there is an interest in minor improvements to reclaim these remnant space as small open space enhancements, such as native wildflower gardens or enhanced landscape areas that feature seasonal color and native plants. The following areas have been identified as locations for enhanced landscape improvements:
- Small Parcel at the end of Marmot Ridge Place – Potential for small native wildflower garden with soft path and seating.
- Small Parcel on the East Edge of Elk Mountain Circle - Potential for small native plant garden featuring local plant species with soft path and seating.
- Small Area on Village Circle East near Elmwood Street – Opportunity for expanded wildflower landscape on upper edges of drainage facility.