Matchett Park planning continues in Grand Junction, Colorado | PostIndependent.com

Matchett Park planning continues in Grand Junction, Colorado

Caitlin Row
crow@gjfreepress.com

Development of Grand Junction's Matchett Park is moving slowly, with a few small projects completed this summer. In partnership with Western Colorado Conservation Core and the Tamarisk Coalition, the City of Grand Junction cleared Russian olive and tamarisk from the Indian wash area. It was funded in part by a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant. It is located right off Patterson Avenue between 28 1/4 and 29 roads.

"We really made it a lot more interactive and cleaned it up," said Traci Wieland, Grand Junction's recreation superintendent. "We hope to clear the remainder [of the invasive plant species] to the north in 2016."

A master plan for the 205-acre park was approved in 2014 by the city. The largely undeveloped park currently hosts a disc golf course, along with trails used primarily by the surrounding neighborhood. The plan includes a footprint for a recreation center, walking trails, an events lawn, outdoor exercise circuits, shelters and ponds, splash pads, a dog park, horseshoe pits, a bicycle park, outdoor athletic facilities, and more.

Though many locals look forward to the prospect of park development, trail users like Grand Junction's Joe Sheader hope wildlife will be protected during the process.

"Over the years I've watched a family of foxes, seen coyotes, badger, muskrat, deer, prairie dogs, red tail hawks, golden eagles, cooper hawks, Canadian geese, deer mice, one snow goose, numerous ducks and too many song birds to keep track off," said Sheader, who lives near Matchett Park. "There are a lot of native plants there, too, once one gets rid of the tamarisk, Russian olive, and noxious weeds."

Sheader's main concern for the park — which he said is shared by others in his neighborhood — is that the park may become too developed.

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"There is a reason so many go there; to get away from all that is conventional, to have some dirt to run or walk on, to see some wildlife, and enjoy the sunrise and sunsets," he said.

According to Wieland, "Matchett Park, because it is so undeveloped, needs quite a bit of infrastructure before we can develop park amenities. We involved hundreds of people in the overall master plan, and people wanted a little bit of everything. We are happy with the plan; and with 205 acres, we have a lot of land to work with to keep areas undeveloped. There will be plenty of areas that will stay dirt and gravel, exactly the same as what it looks like now."

Other Free Press readers on Facebook expressed excitement for other aspects of Matchett Park's master plan, like the potential for a recreation center, horseshoe pits and disc golf.

John Hodge, an avid road cyclist in Colorado's Grand Valley, said he hoped Matchett Park would feature "a paved multi-user path between 28 1/4 Road and Ridge Drive, or at least to Hawthorne Avenue. As it is now we frequently use the dirt path from 28 1/4 to Ridge Drive as part of a route to 27 1/2 Road. It's a great alternative to riding on Patterson Avenue."

As far as a timeline on development, there is currently no rush.

"We'll see what council comes up with in the budgeting process," Wieland said. "We have no formal plans on development right now."

For more information on the master plan, visit http://www.gjcity.org/Matchett_Park_Master_Plan.aspx.

Brittany Markert, a Free Press reporter, contributed to this story.