State officials reject Eagle River Park grant request
EAGLE — Eagle’s ambitious new river park project didn’t make the funding cut in the latest round of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO/Colorado Lottery) funding, announced last week.
Local officials have greeted that news as an if-at-first-you-don’t-succeed scenario.
“I’m obviously disappointed, but the good thing about GOCO’s grant process is they do provide very constructive feedback,” said Eagle Mayor Anne McKibbin. “I fully expect that we will re-apply in the next round, taking their feedback to heart. It’s certainly not a show-stopper for the project, not our only grant opportunity and not our only shot at GOCO funding.”
The river park plan envisions a new amenity both in and along the river at a current truck parking site east of the Eagle County Fairgrounds. The town has hired a company called S20 to plan various river features to attract boaters, kayakers and tubers, while the riverfront park will include passive and active recreation amenities, trails and a river beach area. The town has hired a team from Eagle County firms Zehren and Associates and Alpine Engineering to complete the park plan. Colleen Kaneda, of NV5, will be the construction manager for the park project.
All told, the project is estimated to cost $8.3 million. A little more than $5.2 million of that amount will come from a bond issue supported by a 0.5 percent sales tax increase approved by Eagle voters in April 2016. The town also hopes to attract $2 million in grant dollars, including funding from GOCO. There is also a private fund-raising goal of nearly $1.1 million to complete the project.
In written comments regarding the Eagle River Park application, most of the GOCO staff and peer reviewers designated the project as “good or may fund.”
During the most recent round of applications, GOCO reviewed 62 projects and the Eagle request ranked as number 30. The reviewers recommended only the top 21 projects for this round of GOCO funding. GOCO Local Government Program Manager Jake Houston noted the 62 applications submitted funding requests totaling more than $17 million but GOCO only had $5 million to distribute.
Specific comments from the reviewers cited three main concerns with the Eagle River Park project:
• The project time line is difficult to understand. The applicant states that the project will begin construction in 2017, however, the Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit is not anticipated to be secured until 2018.
• The applicant should make a stronger effort to solicit letters of support from river users and user groups.
• It is unclear how users are compensating for lack of a river park in Eagle. The applicant should address the significance of a river park in this location.
“This is a strong project and given sufficient funding would likely be recommended for funding,” noted the GOCO review. “Staff will work with the applicant to resubmit in a subsequent grant cycle.”
“Obviously, there is disappointment in not receiving the GOCO grant upon first application; however, no grant is a guarantee,” said Eagle Town Board member Matt Solomon. “We are excited to be able to take the feedback GOCO has given us so that we can submit an even better application on the next around.”