The Cortez city government has made a New Year’s resolution to finish several projects originally planned for 2016.
The city’s biggest capital projects in 2017 were originally planned for last year. The parks and recreation department hopes to turn one of the tennis courts at Centennial Park into a pickleball court, and replace the park’s restrooms. The public works department will also be completing two major street projects that began in 2016.
Last year, the parks department applied for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant that would cover 60 percent of the Centennial Park project, which will cost about $180,000 total. They did not receive the grant this year, so the project was put on hold while the department revised its application and resubmitted it for 2017.
“It’s a very competitive grant for us to be pursuing,” parks and recreation director Dean Palmquist said. “But I think we have a much stronger application this year.”
The original application asked for federal funds to support both the new pickleball court and the new restrooms, but Palmquist removed the restrooms from the application this time around. That project, which is projected to cost about $175,000 total, will now be paid for by the city’s Conservation Trust Fund.
Palmquist said he was also able to secure more matching funds for the GOCO grant application, from Cortez pickleball players and other local organizations. The department will find out in April whether they qualified for the grant.
The restroom renovation is set to be completed by Memorial Day. If the parks department gets the GOCO grant for the pickleball court, Palmquist said he hopes to have it finished by early August.
“That sets us up for several other projects we have planned for the future,” he said.
The parks and recreation master plan outlines numerous goals for the next 10 years, including the completion of a trail around Geer Natural Area and renovating the South Softball Complex in south Cortez.
The other major projects the city is carrying over from last year have to do with street improvements. The public works department will complete Cactus Street, which will connect U.S. Highway 160 to Third Street and create an alternate route to Montezuma-Cortez High School. An overlay project on South Beech Street will also be completed next year.
City manager Shane Hale said the street improvement projects were delayed mainly because of the many other construction projects vying for public works employees’ attention in 2016. Improvements to the Southwest Memorial Hospital and the construction of the new Osprey Packs headquarters, with all the hearings and inspections required to make sure they were up to code, took up many of the department’s resources.
“There was so much development in Cortez this year, and so many commercial projects going through ... we didn’t really have time for our own internal projects,” Hale said.
This year, he hopes not only to quickly finish the 2016 street projects, but also to start some new ones. The 2017 city budget includes funds for repaving sections of North Henry and South Market streets, as well as some downtown improvements. Public works has a total of $444,976 budgeted for these projects and regular street maintenance.
One more 2016 undertaking that will be continuing in 2017 is the Cortez Fiber Project. Phase 2 of this project, which is being partly funded by a Department of Local Affairs grant, will connect Southwest Memorial Hospital, Osprey Packs and other nearby businesses to the town fiber network. It will cost about $2 million and is set to begin in spring.