Lease helps move Rifle’s Colorado River boat ramp project forward
Citizen Telegram Editor
A 25-year lease with the Colorado Department of Transportation will allow backers of a proposed new boat ramp on the Colorado River in Rifle to proceed to the hard part: finding money to see it become a reality.
City Council approved the lease of the existing boat ramp, off the road that leads to the rest area, on a 5-0 vote on June 5. Councilmembers Jennifer Sanborn and Jonathan Rice were absent from the meeting.
Helen Rogers, chair of the city’s visitor information fund board, said the project, which also includes a pedestrian trail, parking, roadway and restroom facilities, is estimated to cost more than $288,000.
To date, the board has received or requested donations from Alpine Bank, Wells Fargo Bank and the Clough Family Foundation totalling $20,000. The visitors information fund, which comes from lodging tax revenue, has earmarked another $20,000 for the project, Rogers said.
“We plan to go before the [Garfield] County commissioners and ask them for a matching amount, so we can apply for a CDOT grant in 2014,” she told the council.
The group also plans to seek grant money from the Great Outdoors Colorado program in its next grant cycle in March 2014, Rogers noted.
To date, the board has spent more than $20,000 on the project, including site plans and feasibility studies.
The lease begins retroactively on May 1, 2013, and will end on April 30, 2018, then be automatically renewed for three five-year terms unless terminated. The city will pay $250 for the first five-year term.
The restrooms initially installed will likely be portable, but full-service, permanent restrooms are contemplated, pending funding availability, the board wrote in a memo to the council.
The existing Rifle boat ramp was constructed in February 1996 with funding from the then-Colorado Division of Wildlife and city of Rifle, according to the information fund board’s memo to council. At the time, it was considered appropriate to create a concrete slab and slide it into the water, create a parking area large enough for cars to turn around and put out a few trash receptacles.
“While the ramp seemed adequate for many years, flooding in 2010 caused the stream flow to move north and makes maneuvering around the bridge pylons to get to the ramp very challenging and sometimes impossible,” the memo reads. “At some point, a concrete weir [the wall] was built to keep the 1908 truss bridge from eroding, but created an enormous eddy. If rafters miss the ramp, they could end up in the eddy for some time until they’re able to maneuver out of it.”
The memo also notes several boating accidents have occurred in the area near the ramp, sometimes fatal, others capsized their rafts but were able to make it to shore.
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