Parks decisions will confront City Council
Residents of Grand Junction will have their first formal opportunity today to offer their views on how the Matchett property north of Patterson Road near 28 1/4 Road should be developed as a city park.
Those interested should attend the open house beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Faith Heights Church at 600 28 1/4 Road, or they should attend one of the other open houses from now through March that are designed to help the city create a master plan for Matchett Park.
But it’s not just interested city residents who should be paying attention. Members of the Grand Junction City Council should be following this issue closely, even if they don’t attend the open houses. That’s because, in the not-too-distant-future, the council is going to have to make decisions on funding park development, both at the Matchett property and at Las Colonias along the Colorado River.
Last year, the City Council endorsed the master plan for Las Colonias Park and authorized city staff to apply for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to begin the development of the 101-acre park that will run roughly from 12th Street to Seventh Street on the north bank of the Colorado River.
Unfortunately, the city didn’t receive any money in last year’s round of GOCO funding. It will have to reapply this spring, and no construction on the first phase of the park will begin before the grants are awarded in June, said Traci Wieland, with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
The first phase of development at Las Colonias will cost approximately $800,000, but full build-out of the park to meet the goals of the master plan — with an amphitheater, disc golf course, dog park, picnic shelter, small lakes — is expected to cost approximately $13 million.
There is no cost estimate yet for Matchett Park, which is roughly double the acreage of Las Colonias. The master plan being developed now will help determine those costs.
All this means the City Council will have some critical decisions to make before long about funding for these two major parks. That doesn’t necessarily mean asking taxpayers for more money, but it may mean setting priorities between parks and other spending.
Parks help define a community. Denver, for example, is noted for operating the largest municipal park system of any city in the country. Grand Junction’s parks are popular and well-used, especially Lincoln Park and Canyon View.
Adding two more major parks at opposite ends of the city will make Grand Junction all the more attractive. We believe Las Colonias should be the first priority, because of its importance to the continuing development of the Colorado Riverfront and to the lower downtown area.
But most importantly, we hope members of the City Council are considering ways to include these parks in a vision for the future of Grand Junction, rather than seeking to put them on hold, as both have been for more than 15 years.