Coal Ridge bike path project gaining momentum |

Coal Ridge bike path project gaining momentum

Garfield County commissioners award first-quarter grants for trails, arts, local radio and more

A paved bike path is being planned to run alongside Highway 6 between New Castle and Silt, serving Coal Ridge High School, pictured to the left.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Planning for a new bicycle and pedestrian path to serve Coal Ridge High School between New Castle and Silt got a $5,000 boost from Garfield County this week.

County commissioners on Monday awarded a grant from the county’s Conservation Trust Fund to support the trail project along U.S. Highway 6.

The trail project is part of the larger effort by the Lower Valley Trail Association (LoVa) to build a network of non-motorized trails and paved pathways connecting Glenwood Springs to the western Garfield County communities.

LoVa has been meeting with the mayors of both New Castle and Silt to move ahead with initial design and alignment planning for the trail, which would be placed within the Colorado Department of Transportation’s highway right of way, LoVa Executive Director Jeanne Golay said in a report to the county commissioners.

The trail would run along the north side of Highway 6, directly in front of Coal Ridge High, which is located midway between the two communities.

Funding for actual construction of the path has not yet been identified, but would likely have to come from state and local grants.

“The Garfield Re-2 School District has a strong desire to see the project come to fruition,” Golay wrote in her annual update on LoVa activities. “In 2021, we will continue … (to) seek funding for further design, utility permitting and construction.”

Commissioners asked that the county’s $5,000 contribution go specifically to the Coal Ridge trail project, but LoVa continues to make progress on several other trail-building efforts.

Through a $500,000 Colorado Parks and Wildlife “Colorado the Beautiful” trails grant, LoVa is proceeding with three “micro projects” that will be part of the eventual completion of the South Canyon trail, Golay said.

Among them are a bridge over the Colorado River and an overpass of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks near Canyon Creek, and rock-scaling work at Tibbetts Point. Delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted progress on some of that work, Golay said.

Discretionary grants aid community organizations

Also Monday, county commissioners awarded $30,500 in first-quarter discretionary grants to nine different nonprofit organizations.

Garfield County first quarter grants

Rifle Elks Lodge (boiler replacement): $4,000

KSUN Battlement Mesa Community Radio (transmitting equipment): $5,000

Colorado Mountain College (Non-Traditional Student Scholarship Fund): $2,000

Rifle Masonic Lodge (building restoration): $4,000

Youthentity (program expansion): $5,000

West Elk Trails (winter management): $1,500

Carbondale Arts (50th Mountain Fair operations): $2,000

Roaring Fork Leadership (programming): $5,000

Glenwood Arts Council (program expansion and scholarships): $2,000

Total: $30,500

Among them were two local arts organizations that are looking to rebound from the pandemic restrictions of the past year with some modified special events.

Carbondale Arts and the Glenwood Springs Arts Council were recipients of $2,000 each in the first round of county grants for the year. They had requested $5,000 apiece.

Carbondale Arts/Mountain Fair Director Amy Kimberly said planning is well under way for the 50th installment of the fair, which is set to take place July 23-25.

The fair had to be significantly scaled back last summer due to public health restrictions, with a small arts and crafts fair, a few remote performance sites and a mobile stage carrying bands to neighborhoods throughout Carbondale.

A flatbed trailer served as a mobile stage for bands to take their tunes to the neighborhoods of Carbondale for the COVID-19 restrictions-altered 49th Mountain Fair in July 2020.
John Stroud/Post Independent file photo

While the primary Sopris Park venue was not used at all last year, the plan this year — if allowed under whatever restrictions are in place come summer — is to return many of the traditional events to the park, but also spread the vendor booths and other attractions into the nearby downtown area, Kimberly explained.

“We do need some help to make the 50th special,” she said during her Feb. 1 grant pitch to the commissioners.

“This new layout will cut into our budget immensely, but we feel like it’s important to proceed and make accommodations … this funding will help mitigate some of the costs around doing that,” Kimberly said.

Laurie Chase, representing the Glenwood Springs Arts Council, said the county funding will go to help that organization also adjust to providing programs within the public health restrictions.

Last summer, Glenwood Arts was able to stage an online International Jazz Day concert featuring local jazz artists, and also organized a virtual Culinary Arts Fest.

Similar programs, and in-person events once allowed, are already in the works for 2021, Chase said.

County commissioners received a total of $44,000 in grant requests for the first quarter, but pared that down to $30,500 in order to evenly distribute the county’s $120,000 in available discretionary funds throughout the year.

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