Montrose river corridor plan nears city approval

City of Montrose Parks PLanner and Uncompahgre Riverway Master Plan Project Manager Dennis Erickson, second from left, discusses the plan during an open house at city offices Tuesday afternoon March 22, 2011.

MONTROSE — The Uncompahgre Riverway Master Plan, which aims to develop a 10-mile stretch of the Uncompahgre River with walking trails, a kayak park and other amenities in an effort to connect residents with nature, could receive city approval next month.

City of Montrose Parks Planner and URMP Project Manager Dennis Erickson said the project, projected to cost $25 million, successfully integrated community input and analyzed potential growth along the river.

The plan could be approved during the April 5 meeting of the Montrose City Council.

The plan dissects the 10-mile corridor into 16 “reaches,” or sections, that run from Woodgate Road, south of Montrose, to an area near the city’s water-treatment facility, north of town. Each section is laid out with goals of creating increased public access to the river, erosion prevention, whitewater areas and areas zoned for commercial development.

The plan calls for a hard-surfaced trail to run alongside the river with various footbridges designed to connect neighborhoods and other river accesses with city streets and parks.

According to Erickson the city budgeted $150,000 this year to begin implementing the project. Additional money received have been a $75,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado with $50,000 in matching funds from the city’s lottery revenue.

The Montrose Recreation District kicked in $3,000, along with a $2,500 donation from the Montrose Community Foundation and $1,500 from the Friends of the River Uncompahgre.

The plan, Erickson said, could take decades to complete as funding to complete the project in its entirety must come from financial partnerships with state, federal and various other outdoor groups. Those alliances could take years to solidify, and the plan says 2011 projected costs could change over time.

Erickson called it, “the community’s plan,” after public input in the 2008 city comprehensive plan suggested development with smart preservation could make the river corridor one of the community’s greatest assets.

Part of the plan is to place more signs along Townsend Avenue and Main Street, alerting travelers and tourists to the river and its already existing river trails and parks.

“Those (signs) were to encourage people traveling to take a break and possibly spend another day here,” Erickson said.

Erickson said the potential for commercial development along the river could include restaurants, fishing retail shops and the potential for a rafting company headquarters.

The master plan adopts ideas from whitewater parks, pedestrian bridges and other river-based green space found in Canon City, Durango and Salida.

The city mailed surveys last year to gauge citizen support for the development, and 82 percent of respondents supported the creation of parks and open space along the river, plus new trails and habitat restoration. Meanwhile, 83 percent said they had accessed the river in the past six months and thought greater fishing access was needed.

The plan is available for review on the city’s website, http://www.cityofmontrose,org.


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