Council continues its Las Colonias support

The decision by the Grand Junction City Council Wednesday night to allow city staff to apply for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for Las Colonias Park is welcome news for the many people who support the long-discussed, but to date largely vacant 101-acre park along the Colorado River.

The land for the park lies just east of the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and west of the Orchard Mesa pedestrian bridge.

The 5-1 vote by the council, along with an earlier vote by the council to accept a park master plan, represents an important change from this June, when the majority of the City Council voted to postpone a decision on the Las Colonias master plan because, some said, “We don’t have enough money.”

The vote Wednesday does not commit the council or the city to the full development of the park — with an outdoor amphitheater, disc golf park, dog park, picnic area, small lakes and more. That entire plan is projected to cost in the range of $13 million.

However, the GOCO grant, if approved, and other funds would allow the city Parks and Recreation Department to begin work on the first phase of Las Colonias development, perhaps beginning as early as this fall. That phase, estimated at $900,000, would include a shelter, restrooms, more trails and additional parking.

The city already has $250,000 in this year’s budget for Las Colonias. Additionally, in January, the Grand Junction Lions Club contributed $64,000 toward the park, part of a $300,000 commitment to Las Colonias over seven years.

The city acquired Las Colonias from the federal government through the state back in 1998 as a result of the removal and cleanup of uranium mill tailings that had been deposited on the site during the 1950s and 1960s.

Since then, the city and its riverfront partners have constructed a connecting portion of the Colorado Riverfront Trail across the Los Colonias property, but little else has been done with the land.

This spring, the Edgewater brew pub opened on private land near the Las Colonias property and east of the botanical gardens, setting the stage for what many hope will be a business renaissance along the riverfront in south downtown Grand Junction.

Moving forward with the long-delayed plans to develop Las Colonias as a family- and tourist-friendly park in the heart of the city is one way to encourage that business renaissance, as well as to provide more outdoor recreational amenities to the people of the Grand Valley.

We applaud the members of the Grand Junction City Council who have voted to move forward with grant applications for the first phase of this important project, a park development that we believe will benefit the city and its citizens for generations to come.


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