$300,000 grant given to Las Colonias Park

The city of Grand Junction’s start-and-stop efforts to develop Las Colonias Park in south downtown received a significant financial boost last week.

Great Outdoors Colorado announced an award of $298,757 to the city to help pay for first-phase improvements at the 101-acre park east of the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens.

“This grant is really the momentum we need to get the park going,” said Traci Wieland, recreation superintendent for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The money from GOCO will help build a restroom, shelter, parking, lighting, trail connections and a native arboretum adjacent to the Botanical Gardens. The first phase of park development is expected to cost $771,000.

Wieland said the restroom and shelter along the Colorado Riverfront Trail will be especially important components, given that there are no such amenities between Eagle Rim Park and Riverside Park.

The parking lot east of the Botanical Gardens will be paved with asphalt and a new trail alignment south of Edgewater Brewery will connect to the Riverfront Trail.

Just as the arboretum at Lincoln Park informs visitors about varieties of trees there, the arboretum at Las Colonias will give people insight into types of native plants at the park.

“It’s very educational,” Wieland said. “Folks can go and see how this type of plant behaves and might be able to implement it in their own yard.”

She said other park furnishings — bicycle racks, benches, signs, park rules ­— are “all the things you see in our other parks as they get developed.”

Wieland said construction on the first phase of the park should begin later this summer or early in the fall and be completed within a year. There is no timetable for further development of the park, which could include an outdoor amphitheater, disc golf park, dog park, picnic area and small lakes.

The city has been attempting to develop Las Colonias since at least the late 1990s when the first of three master plans were approved, but progress has been stalled for a variety of reasons.

City officials

applied for a GOCO grant for Las Colonias last year but were rejected. They reapplied this spring, this time with the benefit of project funding from the Colorado Riverfront Foundation, Botanical Gardens, the city’s Parks Improvement Advisory Board, Strive, Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority, Grand Junction Lions Club and the Colorado Garden Foundation. Wieland said.

The city also learned last week that the Colorado Department of Local Affairs has awarded a $180,000 grant that will allow the city to complete the design of the amphitheater, making it “shovel-ready,” Wieland said.

The grant the city received from GOCO was the second-largest awarded by the organization. Out of 36 applications, Grand Junction was one of nine to obtain funding.


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