What recreational opportunities exist in the Paonia area? What opportunities are needed? What existing facilities need improving? How does the town address growth in planning for these opportunities?
These and other questions will be addressed thanks to a $57,000 planning grant recently awarded to the Town of Paonia by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). Funds will be used in updating Paonia’s 1996 Paonia Master Plan, specifically the section on parks, recreation and trails.
This project was one of eight recently funded by GOCO, which had more than double the amount of funding requests than it had funds available.
Paonia already owns several parks and recreation facilities. Since the existing master plan was adopted more than 23 years ago, new recreation opportunities have been identified. As part of the planning process, and in anticipation of future growth, the town is considering plans and options for hiking, biking and walking trails and a possible recreation center.
The grant will allow the town to contract with professional landscape artists, arborists, trail planners and others to help guide the planning process. “Being able to do that will add another level of detail to the (master) plan,” said town planning coordinator Evan Bolt.
“This grant award is instrumental in the Town of Paonia providing its residents and visitors with quality recreational opportunities,” said Bolt. An AmeriCorps VISTA member, Bolt’s one-year internship with the town includes working on updating the 1996 master plan. He recently hosted the first of a series of public meetings aimed at gathering public input on the update.
“The plan funded by this grant will reflect the community’s current and future needs, promote a healthy lifestyle, and serve as the guiding document for improving existing opportunities and implementing new ones,” said Bolt.
Bolt credits Paonia resident Elaine Brett for doing the footwork to obtain the grant. After submitting a previous application, in June the town was urged by GOCO to re-submit the application during the three-day Rural Philanthropy Days event. RPD is a statewide program that brings skill-building, collaborative, and funding opportunities to nonprofits and community organizations. After the event, Brett re-wrote and re-submitted the application.
“Paonia is looking to secure as much grant funding as possible and is looking at all its revenue options,” he said
Obtaining the planning grant will help the town focus on its assets and see if they can be expanded and improved in order to improve quality of life in Paonia, said Bolt. It can also help the town to be more competitive in obtaining GOCO and other grants and outside funding.
To date, GOCO has invested more than $10 million in projects in Delta County and helped to conserve more than 600 acres of land. GOCO funds have supported The Nature Connection, a Generation Wild community, the Paonia Loop Trail project, and improvements at Crawford State Park, among other projects.
“The town appreciates GOCO’s support in this effort to better connect individuals to the natural beauty of Paonia,” said Bolt.