Area plans for future; gets renewed interest from builders
The joint county and city community plan for Orchard Mesa is currently being written and planners have been asking residents about the most important improvements. The city held three community meetings in Orchard Mesa in the spring to gather input and there’s another meeting planned for Aug. 21 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the community building at the Mesa County Fairgrounds to present the draft goals and to make sure planners are on track with the wishes and desires of the residents.
“We identified a number of issues,” said Brian Rusche, senior planner with the City of Grand Junction. Although the population on Orchard Mesa is about the size of Fruita, Rusche said residents are frustrated by a lack of services, like medical clinics or a post office. There is no post office on Orchard Mesa, nor are there any medical offices. There’s only one dentist and one veterinary clinic.
The construction of the 29 Road Bridge and subsequent viaduct over the railroad tracks created one more quick connection to the rest of the Grand Valley, which could be why retailers and service providers who aren’t already on Orchard Mesa aren’t in a hurry to open up shop there.
There’s always an exception to every trend, however, and Maverik is that exception. The Utah company has made an offer on the old Alco site and is working with city planners to tear down the existing building and build a new store. Todd Meyers with Maverik anticipates that it will take about five months to work through planning, with construction of the store starting within 30 days after final approval. Construction will take another 135 days, which means that Orchard Mesa residents will have to wait almost a year before the Maverik store opens.
Residents won’t have to wait that long to see the new Humphrey RV showroom. The RV dealer was landlocked in its current location on U.S. Highway 50, with no room to expand, so the company bought the old Wheeling Corrugating site at 2749 U.S. 50, which had been for sale for about seven months.
“The lot size is more than double,” said Brad Humphrey, owner of Humphrey RV. “We’re spending a half-million dollars to rebuild it and get it up to our specs for our customers.”
The new site has more than nine acres, and Humphrey hopes to offer onsite storage for customers and an expanded line of RVs. The new showroom should be open by October.
The fairgrounds on Orchard Mesa are in the middle of the design engineering process for the east end equestrian facilities and the new west end entrance where the new stoplight was installed.
“We couldn’t bring it in (the new entrance) when the put the stoplight in,” said JoCarol Haxel, fairgrounds manager. “We have to make changes to the park so it’s safe for everyone.”
The fairgrounds has undergone several changes in the last couple years, from the most recent name change to the Mesa County Fairgrounds at Veterans Memorial Park to the new equestrian facility, which was built in 2011. More changes are in the works, but residents should be pleased to know that the revamped equestrian facilities have garnered both positive attention and dollars.
“We’ve increased our equestrian usage by about 40 percent,” Haxel said. The fairgrounds hopes to begin construction on a second covered arena soon to accommodate users. “With the improvements we have planned in the master plan, the equestrian facilities will be a money-maker.”
A partnership between law enforcement agencies, the city, the county and Colorado Mesa University is working to create a multi-use facility that most residents will likely never see, but which will ultimately benefit residents across the Western Slope. Phase one of the new Colorado Law Enforcement Training Center is complete and the facility will celebrate with a grand opening on Thursday, Aug. 15. Phase one included a paved driver training course track, access roads and fencing around the 80-acre site, an observation tower and extensive storm drainage work. The $1.4 million cost was covered by a $400,000 DOLA grant, $638,000 from the 21st Judicial Seizure Board, $314,800 from Mesa County and $80,000 from both the city of Grand Junction and Colorado Mesa University.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Greg Linza, Parks and Recreation Manager with the City of Grand Junction, who oversaw construction of the facility. Linza anticipates that all local law enforcement groups will begin using the facility right away and that other regional groups will be using it by the end of the year.
Future expansion plans include a simulated city block that can be used by law enforcement and fire departments, a six-inch water line, a burn tower, a shoot house, completion of the pistol range, as well as ATV courses and fitness training.
Like the equestrian center at the fairgrounds, which brings out-of-town people who visit for multiple days, staying in hotels and eating in local restaurants, the public safety training facility is expected to be an economic driver for the Grand Valley once it gets fully operational.
Orchard Mesa has also received renewed interest from home builders. GJ Gardner Homes recently finished a home at Spyglass Ridge, near 27 Road south of Highway 50, and has plans to build another. The company has 10 lots in the subdivision, including some in the lower area known as Secret Canyons at Spyglass.
“I like building in there,” said Lawrence Balerio, owner of the local GJ Gardner franchise. “I think the community up there in Spyglass is absolutely fantastic.”
The HOA at Spyglass requires builders to have engineered foundations, and the city takes a critical look at all drainage plans.
“It’s a fairly lengthy process and you have to jump through a lot of hoops,” Balerio said. Those hoops are put in place so buyers can feel confident that their homes are going to be sturdy and safe for the long haul.
GJ Gardner also owns two lots in Fairway Pines, across from Mesa View Elementary on B Road, where it hopes to build pre-sold homes for customers who prefer that neighborhood.
Eric Perry, who has built 18 homes in Chipeta Heights near 29 Road and B Road, is working with the city to bring Chipeta Heights West to the local real estate market. Perry hopes to receive final approval soon so the development can be paved before winter hits. He’s anxious to start building homes and have them complete for spring 2014.
“This is the area that’s going to be the new part of Grand Junction,” said Perry, who believes the new roads have opened the area to buyers who are impressed with the quick access to other part of the valley.