From recreation to roads, spring brings feverish pace to Carbondale | PostIndependent.com
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From recreation to roads, spring brings feverish pace to Carbondale

Carbondale is stepping forward with two major recreation projects and roadway improvements.

The projects have hung in the shadow of the town’s major downtown improvement plan, but the sunshine of public attention is turning their way.

Town officials are planning for recreational uses as the Delaney property and for a proposed recreation center at the North Face property, which will likely go to the voters in November.



The town is also hoping for a reasonable bid to add a downvalley turn lane at the intersection of Highway 82 and 133.

Recreation



Carbondale’s recreation efforts go all the way to Denver, where the Colorado Senate is considering a bill that would allow town residents to vote on whether to extend the town’s 0.5 percent recreation sales tax beyond a 2010 expiration date.

If the tax is extended, Carbondale could vote on whether to use the money to build a $6.4 million recreation center.

Closer to home, the Delaney property master plan committee held its first meeting on Friday. The 12-member committee is working with Otak Rock Creek Studio to create a plan to develop the 33-acre property for recreation uses.

The committee is drafting a survey asking residents what kind of recreational amenities, if any, they want on the property, located northwest of Town Hall. Preliminary ideas include ball fields, an outdoor ice rink, Frisbee golf course, walking trails and a playground.

“The master plan will also prioritize the sequence of development,” said parks and recreation director Jeff Jackel.

At first, the town figured it would upgrade the property over a 10-year period. “But over that long a period, the community tends to lose interest,” Jackel said. So he is looking at a three-year to five-year plan, depending on funding sources.

Funding Delaney property improvements must be found in the months and years to come. Jackel said the town raises about $450,000 per year through its recreation sales tax, which is dedicated to recreation facilities.

If residents vote to build the $6.4 million recreation center at the North Face property, it would eat up all or most of the recreation sales tax for the next 20 years.

“We don’t take in enough to fund a recreation center and other recreation amenities,” Jackel said.

The recreation funding question gets even more complicated when a vote to extend the tax is considered. Town manager John Hier said Carbondale will go into the red starting in 2003 and run out of general fund reserves in 2006 if it keeps spending money at the present rate.

Jackel said some residents, fearful of the town’s economic position, might vote against building a recreation center, even though recreation sales tax funds are not part of the general fund, which pays for police protection and other services.

But sales tax revenues could increase substantially if the 247,000-square-foot Crystal River Marketplace is built on Highway 133.

Meanwhile, the town could receive up to $150,000 in Colorado lottery funds to develop the Delaney property, if it matches that amount with $45,000 of its own, Jackel said.

Future projects aside, Carbondale has already budgeted $100,000 for a skateboard park and $65,000 for an inline roller rink to be built this year at the North Face property.

Highway work

At the intersection of Highway 82 and Highway 133, Carbondale wants to build an extra downvalley turn lane. It would alleviate afternoon traffic jams that can back up cars for a half mile to the south on Highway 133.

But the sole bid submitted in a process last year came in at $302,000, about $150,000 more than the town budgeted.

The town recently advertised for bids again, and has $200,000 budgeted this time. Assistant town manager Bentley Henderson said the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) did some work at the intersection last year, which might cut some costs.

Henderson said CDOT isn’t adding turn lanes itself, because the project was never included in its funding cycle. But Carbondale wants to start moving traffic now.

Bids are due April 5, and the eight-week to 10-week project should start in early summer, depending on CDOT’s work schedule.

CDOT also plans to repave Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale and widen the Roaring Fork River bridge sidewalk this summer.


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