LoVa asks Garfield County support for trail project
A critical part of the Lower Valley trail project is underfunded, and a group is asking Garfield County for support at a time when the commissioners are tightening their budget.
At the commissioners’ meeting Dec. 8, Mike Jankovsky called the cost of the trail “jaw-dropping,” and said he would only consider a matching grant for a lesser amount.
The commissioners will consider supporting the project up to $150,000 at their Monday meeting in Silt.
The LoVa trail has virtually universal support in the region, according to Jeanne Golay, executive director of the Lower Valley Trails Group.
“Everybody saw the beautiful trail in Glenwood Canyon, and said, we need something like this along the rest of the Colorado River,” Golay said.
The ultimate goal is to build a trail along the Colorado River from Glenwood Canyon to the Mesa County line, and the idea has broad support from communities across Garfield County.
The main barrier is the cost. Building the trail along the 9-mile stretch from Glenwood Springs to New Castle is almost prohibitively expensive.
“In South Canyon, you could call it $2 million a mile in places because of the steep, narrow topography,” Golay said.
The completed trail has the potential to turn Garfield County into a cycling trail network like Moab, according to Golay, and the South Canyon section is like “the cork in the bottle.”
“If we can open up that corridor, the tourism dollars will flow,” she said.
But it is an expensive cork. The LoVa team is working on a $1.2 million project to build less than 700 feet of trail starting in West Glenwood.
LoVa’s “Meet Me In The Middle” project received a first-of-its-kind $700,000 grant from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District in October, and Golay been gathering more funds ever since.
The city of Glenwood Springs and RFTA each committed $100,000 to the effort, and the town of New Castle recently approved a $30,000 contribution.
Golay asked Garfield County commissioners to make up the shortfall, requesting $300,000.
The cost of the section is high because there is minimal bank along that stretch of river. The trail there requires mechanically stabilized earth walls.
Jankovsky said the county’s trail fund has about $200,000, but some of that is allocated, and some will be needed for the Safe Routes to School project in 2020.
“We’re tight. Everybody’s tight, and things are going to get tighter doggone it, but that’s life,” Commissioner Mike Samson said.
LoVa has to accept the FMLD grant by Dec. 31, and at that time would have to commit to project specifics, and Golay wants to deliver the project they signed up for.
If the funding doesn’t come through, the trail will have to terminate earlier than the FMLD project specifies.
Golay is confident that if Garfield County can commit to half the needed amount, LoVa can find matching funds.
“We’re confident that we can make that match if (the county) can meet us halfway,” she said.
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