Master plan for Matchett Park nears completion with public input
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Letters will run in the opinion section of the Grand Junction Free Press Weekly.
Joggers, dog walkers, and disc-golf players are currently the most common sights at Grand Junction’s Matchett Park, a largely undeveloped, 205-acre area off Patterson Avenue. But change may be just around the corner.
With the last of three community meetings — held at Faith Heights Church to discuss and fact gather for a pending master plan for the city-owned parcel — Grand Junction’s Recreation Superintendent Traci Wieland is hopeful a finalized Matchett Park master plan will soon come before city council.
“We rolled out our preferred design to the community last Tuesday,” Wieland said. “Basically it’s a compilation of what we heard from the second community meeting. … There just needs to be a couple final tweaks.”
According to Wieland, after hearing homeowner concerns about traffic, the current master plan design features 28 1/4 Road pulled away from residential areas.
“That created a huge space on the western side of the park for a ‘great lawn,’” she said. “Special events could be held there … and it gave a nice buffer.”
Additional highlights include “plentiful natural outdoor opportunities such as walking trails, outdoor exercise circuits, shelters and ponds; the great lawn for athletics and special events; an outdoor aquatic park; a splashpad and playgrounds; a dog park; a bicycle park; outdoor athletic facilities including sand volleyball, basketball, tennis and pickleball; community gardens and more.”
The current draft also boasts an area for a skate park, horseshoe pits, plus a footprint on the southern end of the park for a recreation center and a future District 51 elementary school, as well as a charter school.
In a survey sent out to Grand Junction residents in 2012, many folks throughout the area listed a community recreation center as a necessary amenity for the city. The school district also owns 14 floating acres within Matchett Park to use when the need arises.
“By virtue of going through the master-plan process, we were able to move them to what makes the most sense,” Wieland said.
The master-plan process was largely funded by a $75,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant, which was awarded last June of 2013.
So, what’s the next step? Wieland said “the preferred alternative” master plan will be brought before Grand Junction City Council sometime in spring or early summer.
“This is the conceptual piece,” she explained. “If city council gives us the directive to move forward, then the public will be involved in the continued planning process” for the park.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS WEIGH IN
Many people, especially those living in nearby residential neighborhoods, were included in the master planning process, Wieland said. And while there was wide-spread support for a developed Matchett Park plan at recent community meetings, there were also a variety of concerns — like how to finance it, transportation and access, as well as impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Brad McCloud, who lives in the Dawn Subdivision near Matchett Park, is largely supportive of the project but also has reservations.
“There are pros and cons no matter what,” McCloud said. “Some neighbors want it to stay an open field,” while others see huge benefits to having a developed Matchett Park.
McCloud, who has a 9 year old and a 5 year old, visits Grand Junction’s parks regularly for “relaxing, recreating and sporting events.” A developed Matchett Park would provide activities for his children and for himself (he loves the game of horseshoe).
Besides concerns over increased traffic flow to the area, McCloud’s biggest question about the project is how to fund it.
“Financially, what can we bear to build a park?” he asked in a recent phone conversation. “For the rec center, are there options to privately fund it? I think there is a lot of support for the rec center and the park. The final hurdle is the financing mechanism.”
Jodi Niernberg, who serves on Grand Junction’s Downtown Development Authority Board, is largely supportive of the park development project as well. She, along with her husband Josh, have long been advocating for a destination skate park to be built in Grand Junction.
“I of course am pleased to see a skate park incorporated into the park plan,” she said in an email. “I feel the location is appropriate and importantly not ‘tucked’ in a back corner of the park.” It’s also “incorporated well into the entire design.”
Niernberg then stressed the importance of not “cutting corners” when developing Matchett Park, and the importance of broad community input on the park’s future — not just the neighbors.
“The skate-park portion of this park needs to be done right, meaning hiring the right people (and) doing the necessary research.
“The other skate parks here in Grand Junction were installed by the same contractors that build sidewalks and driveways, and my hope is that this will not happen again. There are professionals that build skate parks, and these are just the individuals that should be building this skate park.”
Another Grand Junction resident, Brenda St. John, has lived nearby Matchett Park for the last 14 years, and recently became involved in the community process regarding the pending master plan.
St. John said she definitely supports the inclusion of a recreation center at Matchett Park, but still has concerns about traffic and access.
“It is inconceivable that a community the size and demographic makeup of Grand Junction doesn’t already have (a rec center),” St. John said. “Actually, it is shameful.”
Her main concern however was that a developed Matchett Park would create “… another intersection on Patterson, instead of utilizing a more practical existing one at Legend Way.”
According to Wieland, if the park were to go forward, “a very rigorous planning process” will be taken to keep traffic patterns and school children safe.
If people have questions, comments or concerns about the pending Matchett Park master plan, email Wieland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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