GOCO planning grant could set the stage for major project
[ By Mark Reaman ]
Gunnison County will apply for a $75,000 planning grant with Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) this month to look at developing a multi-modal access trail running between the town of Crested Butte and Crested Butte South. The grant would entail $75,000 in matching funds.
County community and economic development director Cathie Pagano informed the county commissioners at the November 16 meeting that her department wants to take advantage of the grant opportunity to move the project forward. She said the STOR (Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation) Committee has kept the project as a top priority and the planning grant could help fund a consultant that would help with alignment of the project.
“We would be looking at using the CDOT right-of-way along Highway 135 and not going over private property or ag land,” she said. “It is important that the project be multi-modal in nature. CDOT isn’t really into just a trail.”
Gunnison County stewardship coordinator Joe Lavorini said the CB South POA had committed to contribute funds for the project and there has been positive indications that the town of Crested Butte and the Gunnison County Met Rec board would participate as well.
Commissioner Liz Smith asked if the project could eventually tie into projects on the west side of the highway such as the potential Whetstone affordable housing development located next to Riverland.
Pagano said the planning could help determine the best ways to connect with neighborhoods in the area. “It is important to include these connections in the scope of work but it isn’t determined how that would be accomplished,” she noted. The trail and neighborhood access points would likely happen in phases, she added.
“This is a really important step in the project,” said Smith. “People have been desiring something like this for a long time.”
Commissioner Roland Mason agreed. “The project has been talked about for a long time so hopefully this planning grant can help us go after actual funding to get it done,” he said.
“It always was a priority of the old trails commission that was folded into the STOR Committee and some worried it would go away but it has stayed out front as a community project,” added commissioner Jonathan Houck. “Actionable steps are still being taken to accomplish this.”
Pagano said the initial application to GOCO will be submitted this week and if there’s a request for a full application she would come back to the commissioners for a resolution of support. She also reminded the commissioners that such a project is not small and, “it will take significant staff time and resources so I would encourage you to include it in your strategic plan.”
Houck agreed that would be appropriate.