Tourism board votes to help fund town trail

The Pagosa Area Tourism Board (PATB) pledged $40,000 out of its reserves to help fund a segment of the town’s Riverwalk that is slated to run along Hermosa Street, through Cotton Hole Park and to the 1st Street bridge.
The board considered the request for 2020 funding at its Nov. 12 meeting.
The town, via a letter from Town Manager Andrea Phillips, requested $25,000 to $40,000.
The project, according to Phillips’ letter, is a 10-foot-wide multipurpose trail.
“The goal is to connect the two parks via an off-street trail and to extend the existing River Walk further east,” the letter states, later adding, “Future plans include a segment that will extend underneath the 1st Street Bridge to the north with a connection to the River Center Park. It is anticipated that users will consist of visitors and residents utilizing the many fantastic amenities in the downtown area. These include, but are not limited to, the parks, river take out/put in areas, restaurants, hot springs, etc. The trail will likely be used during special events as well.”
The letter notes that parking options in the trail area are still being discussed.
To begin discussion on the matter on Nov. 12, board member Madeline Bergon, who serves as the town’s member on the PATB, noted that when the PATB opted to lower its budget for infrastructure funding, the board had talked about funding bigger projects out of reserves, and asked if there was any risk in doing that.
The risk, PATB Executive Director Jennifer Green responded, is the county not approving the expenditure since anything funding out of reserves has to be approved by both the town and the county.
Bergon noted that the tourism board has healthy reserves and the trail is a chance to do something “impactful.”
Board chair Shane Lucero indicated the source of the funding could be split, with some from reserves and some from infrastructure funding.
Board members Lauri Heraty and Steve Wadley both indicated support for using reserves to fund the request, with Wadley noting the tourism money was there to be spent.
Conversation then turned to how much should be awarded to the project, with Bergon suggesting the full $40,000.
Green informed the board that the PATB was projected to have $345,000 in available funds in its reserves, with the balance of that fund projected to be about $576,000.
Later in the conversation, Green pointed out that the board’s stated goal for the reserves is a permanent event venue, with the reserve funding earmarked for a feasibility study and a match for grant funding.
She noted that a portable event stage up for consideration later in the meeting would be some of the research into the permanent event venue.
As conversation wound down, Bergon motioned to approve $40,000 from reserves for the town’s project, and the motion was approved unanimously.
Phillips’ letter also explains the project’s cost and other funding.
“The Town is currently in the final design stages of the trail and the alignment is set. The Town purchased property in 2017-2018 at the end of Hermosa Street to formalize public access to Cotton Hole Park. The total project budget is $837,070. Of this, $400,000 has been secured through a Colorado Parks and Wildlife State Trails grant. The Town is trying to secure local funding for the remaining $437,070. At this time, staff is budgeting funds from as many places as possible to fund this project. Sources include the Capital Budget, Conservation Trust Funds, and Impact Fee Funds. The County will also be asked to contribute to the project. The Town will construct the trail and associated parking in 2020.”
Event stage funding
Later in the meeting, the board discussed the purchase of a portable event stage — something board member Michael Whiting noted would have “tremendous advantages.”
Green explained that the stage would allow the PATB to determine the need and the best location for a permanent event venue and would help the organization’s odds with any grants toward a permanent facility.
Lucero suggested the larger stage would help give Pagosa Springs’ events more “legitimacy.”
Whiting motioned to approve an amount not to exceed $80,000 for the stage, with that amount slated to come out of reserves, and the motion passed unanimously.

This story was posted on November 27, 2019.