Grand Junction’s Matchett & Las Colonias parks poised for upgrades
Change is afoot for Grand Junction’s park system, with upgrades pending for two separate areas — Matchett Park on Patterson Road and Las Colonias Park near Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and Edgewater Brewery.
According to Grand Junction’s recreation superintendent Traci Wieland, a master plan for Matchett Park was approved unanimously by city council on Sept. 17. Such a plan sets the stage for development of the 205-acre park on the outskirts of Grand Junction near residential neighborhoods. The master-plan process was primarily funded by a $75,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant, which was awarded in June 2013 to the city.
“It’s a blueprint for future development,” Wieland said of the plan, which includes a variety of walking trails, exercise circuits, shelters, a large lawn, a splash pad, playgrounds, a dog park, a bike park, community gardens, a skate park and horseshoe pits. It also includes a footprint on the south side of the park for a recreation center if the city should choose to build one, plus a future District 51 elementary school, as well as a charter school.
“We will leave no stone unturned in regards to finding funding sources,” she added, now that a master plan is in place.
Because Great Outdoors Colorado funded Matchett Park’s planning process, Wieland hopes the Colorado entity (which takes funds from the Colorado Lottery and invests in parks, trails, river areas and more) will consider backing actual upgrades to the area. Other potential funders may include Colorado Parks & Wildlife and National Park Service’s Land & Water Conservation Fund.
“We are also working with the Tamarisk Coalition to clear tamarisk and Russian olive from [Matchett Park’s] Indian-wash area,” she said.
LAS COLONIAS PLAN MOVES FORWARD, TOO
The Las Colonias Park master plan, which was adopted by the city in July 2013, maps out how to develop city owned property from Fifth Street to the Eagle Rim Park pedestrian bridge in Orchard Mesa.
Adopting the plan was also the vehicle that prompted Great Outdoors Colorado to award nearly $300,000 to the project this summer, Wieland confirmed. The grant, along with money from the Colorado Riverfront Foundation and others, will go to a first phase of construction — building new bathrooms and a shelter. Plus it will improve parking, lighting and connections to the Riverfront Trail. Colorado Garden Foundation donated $14,600 for native plants, too, as the pending redevelopment will include a native arboretum adjacent to the botanical gardens.
A recent $180,000 grant from Colorado Department of Local Affairs will additionally fund design work for an amphitheater in the park, which will be located directly east of Edgewater Brewery.
The city is currently seeking to hire an architect and a landscape architect by mid-October to design the amphitheater, Wieland noted. They will be charged with developing its final design and construction documents.
“We’ll be working on it the rest of this winter and into spring of 2015,” she said. “The goal is to have it buttoned up by next summer.”
According to Harry Weiss, Downtown Development Authority’s executive director, he’s currently assessing Grand Junction’s downtown events — including policy, location and management. Once the amphitheater is built, Las Colonias Park (which is considered to be within DDA’s boundaries) could potentially host large-scale events currently hosted on Grand Junction’s Main Street.
“Festival-type events would make a lot of sense at Las Colonias for the long haul when infrastructure is in place,” he noted.
Phase 1 construction at Las Colonias — which is projected to cost $772,000 and does not include the amphitheater — is slightly delayed however. Work was supposed to kick off this fall, but it’s now moved back to springtime to accommodate a partnership with Colorado Discover Ability, a Grand Valley based adaptive sports program. The group hopes to build a new 5,000-square-foot facility on city owned land along the riverfront as part of the pending Las Colonias Park project.
“We’re working with them to iron out all the details before construction starts,” Wieland said. “We don’t want to jump into anything before we have those things completely figured out.”
Even so, Wieland believes that a first phase of redevelopment in on track to be completed by next summer.
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