Group wants new bike path linking city to monument
Grand Junction has some big-time visitor draws in Colorado National Monument and a vibrant downtown. Can you imagine if the three miles between the two were connected by a bike path?
Local conservation group Mesa Land Trust can, and its directors are beginning a public process this week to gather community information about how that vision might become a reality.
The organization—which recently purchased and turned into open space a parcel called the Three Sisters, in the same Monument Road corridor—hopes that the community will line up to support a similar project to create a safe off-road bike path along the critical road.
“As we were meeting with people and leading tours up (at Three Sisters), you look up Monument Road and you just go, ‘There’s so much more that we can do,’” said Libby Collins, project coordinator for the Mesa Land Trust. “The tourism and visitor potential is incredible.”
Community meetings to discuss the trust’s “Building a Vision for Monument Road” are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the first of what will be many opportunities for people with a stake in the project to meet and talk.
That range of people is a wide one: bikers and trails users of the Tabeguache system, users of the Riverfront Trail system who would love the chance to ride safely all the way to the monument, residents in the many communities on the Redlands, even business owners downtown who could take advantage of a new path connecting the two visitor draws.
“We need to convene a community dialog. Let’s find out what we want to do,” Collins said.
“There are few places where downtown businesses are so close to beautiful recreation resources like the Colorado National Monument and Tabeguache trail areas,” said Mesa Land Trust Executive Director Rob Bleiberg in a press release.
The partner list in the potential project is also a long one. The Mesa Land Trust, the city of Grand Junction, Mesa County, Colorado National Monument and the BLM are all expected to be a part of the process.
A key stakeholder group can be found in the folks downtown — the bike shops, restaurants and hotels who would likely see great benefit from an off-road connection between downtown and the monument.
Steve Gunderson, Western Slope Region President for U.S. Bank, said in support of the project that building this vision “strengthens the community by bringing people together to develop a stronger asset for our local residents and local economy.”
The trust also received a technical support grant from the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Administration, within the National Park Service, to convene the public discussion and provide overall support for the project. That includes an interactive website where people can leave comments on a host of project topics at http://www.monumentroadvision.com.
As Collins explained, both the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County have eyed the Monument Road area for a path in the past, via the Redlands Area Plan and a trail plan from the city’s Urban Trails Committee. And when the recent Three Sisters project came about, the city in particular said they’d like to see Mesa Land Trust to do even more, Collins said.
What’s lacking, though, is the overall vision—which is what the new community outreach effort is all about. Once the community’s plan comes together, Mesa Land Trust then gets to work approaching landowners about either conservation or trail easements, or buying pieces of property outright, to make the project a reality.