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The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners decided against funding permanent restroom facilities at Cloman Community Park and vowed up to $15,000 for the second phase of the skate park at Yamaguchi Park Tuesday afternoon.
Both decisions came during the board’s Aug. 5 regular meeting and stemmed from concerns over waning funding dedicated to parks and recreation (in the county’s 1A parks and recreation fund from a five-year ballot measure that allowed the county to keep property tax revenues above a state-imposed limit), in addition to other concerns.
While previously tentatively supporting work toward planning permanent restroom facilities at Cloman Community Park, on Tuesday the BoCC declined to support a grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) for the purposes of building the restroom facilities.
Currently, the park is served by portable toilets during the busy season.
Commissioners Steve Wadley and Clifford Lucero both stated during the meeting that the restrooms would mean more maintenance and operation costs and work for the county, which the county could not meet without expanding its staff, thereby creating a parks and recreation department of sorts.
Commissioner Michael Whiting, however, stated that the county took on the obligation of taking care of the park with the ribbon cutting that opened the park, which has become a year-round facility. Whiting then added that the board was obligated to do something about the restrooms and that he was inclined to complete the restrooms and finish the park.
Lucero responded by stating that the county has “a lot of parks,” naming Cloman Community Park and the fledgling Veteran Memorial Park (the only two under the county’s jurisdiction), which he said would also need restrooms in the future.
“We’re creating another department,” Lucero said, adding that it would create more budgetary need and the ongoing idea of creating a special district for parks and recreation in all of Archuleta County should be looked into, with the county needing to look at the bigger picture.
Gwen Taylor, chair of the PROST (parks, recreation, open space and trails) task force, which has spearheaded planning the amenities of the park, stated that many people would be more likely to visit a park with permanent restroom facilities that are safe and clean.
Taylor also reiterated that a state disc golf tournament could be held in Archuleta County and at the park in the coming year, adding to the reasons to construct permanent facilities, adding that the county currently has funding for the project and that annual maintenance of the facility was projected to cost less than $5,000 per year, with that cost eligible to come out of conservation-oriented funds the county receives.
Lucero countered that portable toilets work well for several events throughout the county, adding that permanent facilities would be a good idea in the future, with Taylor suggesting the parks could be signed over to a future recreation district.
After a note from Lucero that the GOCO grant comes up every year, Wadley stated that he was on the fence on the issue because of committing future funding, though permanent restroom facilities would make the park more attractive.
In response to the cost and personnel commitment to maintenance of the facility, County Administrator Bentley Henderson said he would likely choose to contract that maintenance out versus using county staff.
Also in response to questions from the board and Henderson, Public Works Director Ken Feyen warned that, in his experience with several similar projects, vandalism would be an issue that would be likely to double or triple the estimated maintenance budget.
Whiting then reiterated that the restrooms were a chance to finish a project in Archuleta County, noting that the county already maintains the road, parking lot and picnic structure (which is currently under construction).
After Lucero again stated that the park would be almost done and will have portable toilets, the chair called for a motion.
Wadley provided that motion, which was to not submit the grant application. Lucero seconded the motion and it passed with a 2-1 vote, with Whiting dissenting.
Immediately prior to the agenda item on Cloman Community Park, the BoCC heard a request for the county to contribute $25,367 from the county’s 1A fund as part of a match for a GOCO grant to complete the second phase of the skate park at Yamaguchi Park.
The grant, for the Skaters’ Coalition for Concrete (SCC), is slated to be submitted by the Town of Pagosa Springs.
The PROST task force unanimously recommended that the BoCC approve funding for the project, citing that several community entities were working together to fund the project and that it fit within the community’s master plan for parks and recreation.
The $25,367 requested of the county is roughly 17 percent of the project’s $153,417 estimated cost, Taylor said.
During the presentation and discussion on the item, Mike Musgrove, executive director of the SCC, said the group is aiming to submit its grant application with a 40-percent local match to be more competitive than the required 20-percent local match.
Beginning commissioner discussion on the matter, Lucero noted that the county contributed $50,000 to the first phase of the skate park, while Whiting asked the status of other cash-match components, such as if they had only been pledged or were in the bank.
Musgrove noted that the $17,000 pledge from the town was actually close to $32,000 because the town built the construction contingency into its contribution, some were still pledges, while other donations, such as from The Springs Resort, were already in the bank.
Whiting suggested that any county contribution be made contingent upon all other anticipated funds being received.
Wadley then noted that the 1A fund is a depleting source of funds and suggested the town be contributing as much as the county, also noting that a large amount of the county’s 1A funding was being spent within town limits.
Musgrove countered by noting that the town took on the ongoing maintenance and operations for the life of the park, which would equate to more than the county’s contribution.
Lucero asked Musgrove what the minimum match was that the county could provide while still meeting the match required for the GOCO grant,
While nobody knew at the meeting without formulating the exact amount, Musgrove estimated the amount to be no less than $15,000.
Lucero then praised the skate park and its evolution since being located at South Pagosa Park, but said he could “probably vote for” $15,000, but not the full amount requested.
During the conversation, Henderson noted that the 1A parks and recreation fund sits at about $334,000 in noncommitted funds.
After recognizing that the reduced contribution would lessen the chance of receiving a GOCO grant for the project in the upcoming cycle, the board unanimously approved to contribute up to $15,000 to the cause.