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C’dale puts park, rec. plans to voters

Jeremy Heiman
Special to the Post Independent

Carbondale voters will be asked to decide two ballot issues in the town’s municipal election on April 6.

The items are both intended to fund development of the town’s parks and recreation system.

One issue would give the town the authority to use bonds to borrow money to develop parks, trails and a recreation center.



The other would extend an existing tax far enough into the future to repay those bonds over a period of time typical for such bonds.

Ballot Issue No. 1 asks voters to extend an existing 0.5 percent sales and use tax indefinitely. The tax now is scheduled to end, or “sunset” at the end of 2010.



Jeff Jackel, Carbondale’s recreation director, said the extension of the tax is necessary because bonds are paid off much in the way a home mortgage is, over a period of perhaps 20 or more years. Currently, the tax is set to sunset in under seven years.

“The problem the town is faced with is we can’t bond and pay off the indebtedness,” Jackel said. “That’s the reason we’re asking the voters to extend the 0.5 sales tax.”

The sales and use tax now yields about $425,000 per year. The town estimates that, due to increases in economic activity, the amount collected will increase to $630,000 annually by 2011. The use tax is levied on construction materials used within the town.

Ballot Issue No. 2 asks Carbondale voters to allow the town to incur $2.65 million in debt, by selling bonds. Use of the proceeds would be limited to construction of a recreation center, parks and trails.

The recreation center is proposed for the nine-acre North Face site, owned by the town. Ultimately, planners hope it will serve as a multi-purpose center, with athletic and cultural components and conference facilities, Jackel said.

Two new parks for Carbondale

Also funded by the bond issue would be the proposed Gateway River Park, planned for property the town owns along the Roaring Fork River, behind the Days Inn motel.

It would include trails and a trail bridge over the river, ultimately connecting the town’s trails to the Red Hill area by way of an existing box culvert under Highway 82.

Gateway River Park development would eventually include whitewater features in the river to draw kayakers to the park, Jackel said.

If the ballot issues pass, they would also fund another planned park, the Carbondale Nature Park. That park is planned for a 33-acre parcel known as the Delaney property, just across the railroad tracks from City Hall, north of downtown Carbondale.

The town has plans for additional trails and trail connections in town.

It will offer seed money toward extending the Rio Grande trail from Carbondale’s east end to the rodeo arena, approximately one mile east, on RFTA’s rail right of way.

Investment in the economy

Jackel said all these projects are not just amenities for residents, but are also intended to be an investment in Carbondale’s economy.

“The reason these recreation projects are so important is that they have the potential to impact our revenue, in that they will influence tourism,” Jackel said.

“We think Carbondale will be the center of trails in the Roaring Fork Valley,” he continued. “When you see all these trails, we think Carbondale could be much like Moab was 20 years ago.”

Jackel said if the voters pass both ballot issues, an investment banker would sell the bonds as soon as this summer, and work on the rec center, parks and trails could start in the near future.

However, he said, it would make no sense for voters to pass Issue No. 2 without passing Issue No. 1, because the bonding plan won’t work without the extended sales tax.

Contact Jeremy Heiman: 945-8515, ext. 534

jheiman@postindependent.com


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