The Paonia River Park, a former in-stream gravel pit, is just going to keep becoming better and better. Both Western Slope Conservation Center and members of the public envision trails and improvements that will continue to make the river park a pleasure to visit.
Joanna Calabrese, Paonia River Park coordinator, says a Concept Trails Plan has been developed and was presented at a public meeting on Oct. 29.
The Conservation Center was awarded a $45,000 grant this summer from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife State Trails Program for the project. In August they distributed a public survey on general park use that was completed by over 70 park users. Data from the survey was combined with comments shared at a public open house at the park on Aug. 27 to inform the creation of the plan. They have contracted park planner and landscape architect Julee Wolverton out of Montrose to create the general layout and design of the trails and other improvements.
The original plan provides for an ADA handicap concrete ramp with handrails to connect to the existing soft-surface trail; handicap-accessible soft-surface trail without handrails to river fishing point; smooth-grade and top-dress existing gravel boat ramp; upgrade parts of the existing soft-surface four-foot trail as needed in certain areas between boat ramp and Minnesota Creek Bridge; possible upgrade/replacement of the existing Minnesota Creek bridge; boulder seating and sand beach at the northwest intersection of Minnesota Creek and the river; possible relocation of existing boulder seating outdoor classroom/amphitheater to higher ground; new trail extension east to end of property along slope to skirt wetland area — boulder or concrete retaining wall may be required; loop trail at end of east side of property with river overlook point; and trail signage.
After presentation of these ideas, the audience offered some of their own ideas. According to Calabrese, they included: replacement of the Minnesota Creek bridge as soon as possible with higher abutments and possibly a box culvert with cobble veneer or rustic metal handlebars; another wants Delta Sand and Gravel asked about an access easement to build a trail beyond the park's property line on the southern border; plant trees behind the parking lot fence in the gravel yard to block the view of the gravel yard and plant trees behind proposed amphitheater location to provide shading; keep everything "as is," with dog rules because signs with no enforcement are counterproductive; replace the fence along the southern border with mesh fencing to prevent people from crossing, designed for elk and deer to pass around; use wood decking for the handicap ramp rather than concrete to reduce costs and keep a natural look.
Planning will wrap up this winter and the Conservation Center will apply for construction funds to construct improvements in 2014 and 2015.
Contact Joanna Calabrese at 527-4307 ext. 204 about becoming a river steward. The Friends of the River Park Committee are seeking river stewards "who love the park and have leadership skills to lend to its development."blog comments powered by Disqus