Long untouched, Burkey Park getting attention from city, county

More than 40 years after Lew and Mildred Burkey donated 18 acres of land near 30 and Patterson roads to the city of Grand Junction for a future park, the city is beginning to hold up its end of the bargain.

Pushed by neighboring residents to do something to improve the land, city parks and recreation officials spent about $10,000 earlier this year to put up a split-rail fence on the southern edge of the property that faces Patterson and lay rock in the landscaping strip between the park land and the street to keep weeds at bay. Next week, city workers will join neighborhood volunteers to spread mulch to establish a walking path in the park.

And Tuesday, for the first time, the Mesa County Commission and Grand Junction City Council tentatively expressed interest in splitting the cost of developing Burkey Park.

The City Council approved its 2009 budget last week, while the County Commission will sign off on its next week. But County Commissioner Janet Rowland said during a joint meeting that commissioners are willing to talk about investing capital dollars in the park, possibly as soon as 2010.

Parks and Recreation Director Rob Schoeber estimated it will cost $2 million to $3 million to develop the park.

The Burkeys gave the land to the city in 1967, but it has been virtually untouched ever since.

That has angered Lew Burkey’s lone surviving brother, Ben, and spurred City Councilman Gregg Palmer to push the council in recent years to make developing the park a priority.

A master plan completed for Burkey Park in the mid-1990s called for bike and pedestrian trails, volleyball and basketball courts, a children’s play area, picnic benches and a shelter, among other amenities.

Schoeber said neighbors have expressed the most interest in having grass, restrooms and shelters at the park. He said he wants to move ahead with creating another master plan and allow parks employees to put it together, rather than hiring an outside consultant to do it.

After the meeting, Palmer said he appreciated the fact commissioners appear to be willing to work with the city to develop the park.

“This group has waited a long time,” he said of the Burkey family and the neighborhood.


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