Golden, Colo., got a little greener this year with the completion of a 209-acre golf club. In addition to expanding the city’s recreational opportunities, the project — which was the largest public works project in Golden history — preserved groundwater, open space and a unique link to the past.
Nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills, west of Denver, Fossil Trace Golf Club is a grassroots project in more ways than one. Responding to residents’ requests for a public golf course, Golden generated preliminary plans for a course, and, by 1997, a citizen advisory committee was studying costs and potential locations for the project.
The committee suggested that the city could accommodate a golf course by expanding its land holdings around 35 acres it had purchased in the 1980s. That parcel, earmarked for flood drainage, had remained untouched as the city lacked funds to proceed with drainage plans.
In fall 2000, Golden voters approved a $26 million bond issue to be used, in part, for Fossil Trace construction. The city purchased 82 acres from the state and secured additional land through donations from Jefferson County Open Space (40 acres) and a private landowner (52 acres). The private site included a landfill, which the city would remediate, and it contained a collection of plant and dinosaur fossils that would give the new golf club its name.
Working with the University of Colorado, the city cataloged the fossils, including the world’s only known tracks of the Champsosaur, an ancient crocodile. The sandstone ridges that held the fossils were heavily cracked, prompting the city to install rock pinnings to preserve them.
For years, the mountains and rocks that lined the project site had contributed to intermittent streams and flash floods in the area. Golden incorporated flood drainage in the golf course project, adding channels to redirect flow and three lakes to hold up to 40 acre-feet of floodwater. As a result, approximately 25 acres of downstream property were freed from the 100-year floodplain.
Grading began in summer 2001, as did the landfill remediation. The site contained flyash, so the city consolidated the material in multiple pits and capped them before converting the property.
Construction continued into 2002, with greens, fairways, a driving range and a clubhouse. The city also installed approximately three miles of trails, giving visitors access to the fossil sites, and it constructed wetlands to mitigate the sites disturbed by flood drainage construction. By the fall, the course had been seeded.
Opening in late July 2003, the Fossil Trace Golf Club was instantly popular. The city projected revenue of $680,000 between August and December, but, by mid-November, the club had taken in more than $1 million in user fees.
Primarily the 2000 bond issue funded the project, which cost $17.2 million to complete. (For flood control improvements, Golden contributed $1.8 million from its stormwater utility enterprise fund, and it received $1 million in matching funds from the regional flood control authority.) Although sales taxes will repay the 20-year bond, the club’s revenue — from greens fees to cart rentals — will allow the city to reimburse the sales tax fund for the cost of the project.
For 2004, Golden estimates that revenue will reach $2.4 million, which will cover the club’s yearly operating expenses ($1.8 million) and fund reimbursement ($620,000). Surplus revenue will be placed in the general fund.
Agencies/companies involved: James J. Engh Golf Design Group, Castle Rock, Colo.; Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, Denver; TST Inc., Fort Collins, Colo.; KRW Consulting, Lakewood, Colo.; CTL/Thompson, Denver; ACR Engineering, Austin, Texas; Michael W. West & Associates, Englewood, Colo.; American Civil Constructors, Lakewood; Pinkard Construction Co., Lakewood; University of Colorado, Denver; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Denver; Colorado Department of Health & Environment, Denver; Colorado Historical Society, Denver; Colorado Department of Corrections, Facilities Management, Denver; Urban Drainage & Flood Control District, Denver; Jefferson County (Colo.) Open Space; Jefferson County Board of Commissioners; Consolidated Mutual Water Co., Lakewood; Xcel Energy, Minneapolis; Qwest Communications, Denver; AT&T Broadband, Denver.