GoCO Grants Updated at Lamar Council Meeting

Skateboard Park View Looking North to Swimming Pool

A series of outdoor related projects are expected to move forward once the grants have been finalized, according to Rick Akers, Lamar Parks and Recreation Department Director. Akers briefed the Lamar City Council Monday, November 13th on the status of the Lamar Loop and the GoCO Inspire grant which will help fund three different projects in Lamar.

Akers said funding will be an issue for all of the projects as the estimates of construction have been higher than the grants from the state. “Our GoCO grant for the loop was $1.381 million and that would cover all aspects of the project,” he explained, adding that there was only one construction bidder, MonCor and the two phases of the project came in at $1.6 million.  “We had initially estimated the cost of the 7.3 mile walking trail at a flat $1million,” Akers said, “And we had to scale that back to a different plan.”

Under the changes, the concrete loop will run from Sherman Street to Maple Street along the sides of the road, pick up at Oak Street towards the green belt to Ft. Bent Canal. From there it will move to 14th Street, crossing the Canal to 11th Street.  That stretch of the loop will be asphalt-paved.  Crusher fine material will be laid down from Willow Creek by the Parkview tennis courts and follow the creek out to CR HH.5.  Akers said because of weather issues, the crusher fine stretch of the loop will be done first and work should start once the grant is approved and he expects to see the project completed 100 days after that.  “The grant is due next June,” he told the Council and said there may be a possibility of a state trail’s grant.  If that’s the case, Akers said some of the grant could be applied to matching funds for the new one.

“We have one bottleneck on the plans right now, and that’s the crossing over Highway 50 east of town. Safety is an issue because of the width of the highway and that will be explored in the planning.”  Akers reminded the council that only bikes and pedestrians will be allowed on the trail.  “No horses,” he said, saying their hooves can really tear up a trail.  He said the committee will start to issue updates to the community at large, as there have been questions about the start date for the loop.

Akers expects to executive the Inspire Grant from the state before year’s end. “The school district is on board and excited about these projects and they are scheduling teachers and counselors who will work with the students on outdoor projects,” he stated.  Some funding will be applied to sports-related equipment storage units for each of the schools in the district, including Alta Vista.  Plans are developing for an outdoor gear library which will be available to the public.  “We have the Inspire Grant divided into three projects.  The first is Wheels Park for Willow Creek Park.  The second is for an outdoor learning center at the park which will replace the playground equipment and the third phase will be enhancements at North Gateway Park.”

North Gateway Park, Far Ponds Looking West

Akers said he expects the grant to be approved by GoCO before the end of November. When that happens the firm designing the skate park will get underway with construction.  He said it would be nice to have it operational by Lamar Days in May, but made no promises.  “I believe Wheels Park will be an area draw,” he said, adding that it will be open to the general public to use.  Akers has been in touch with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on their projects which include a family-oriented camping trip to Two Buttes for 2-3 days.  “The CPW really wants this to be a family event.  There will be training for hunter safety cards and there will be fishing and other events planned for the outing.”

The gear library will be available through schools, but the Rec Department will handle the operation during the summer and it will be open to the public as well, especially bicycles. “We don’t want them locked up, especially for the summer, so the department will handle checkouts.  The bike shop at the HOPE Center will handle some of this and Byron Hall has been in contact with nationwide bike companies for donations of equipment and repair supplies.  “We hope to have an on-going relationship with them after the grant has expired in three years so we can continue to have some help from them,” he explained.  He’s expected to have around 20 bikes per school and some extras for adults and parents who want to rent them out to ride with their kids.

By Russ Baldwin

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