Designs for a new $4.5 million park on the site of the old Montezuma-Cortez High School are expected to be finished by the end of the year.
However, a date for starting construction has not been set because funding for the first phase is not in place, said Dean Palmquist, Cortez parks and recreation director.
“We are going to try to get as much outside funding as we possibly can,” Palmquist said.
The first phase of the south side project, expected to cost $750,000, will help transform the 11-acre site into a welcoming space with picnic tables, exercise equipment, a playground and walkways, according to the city’s budget.
A Great Outdoors Colorado grant will provide $300,000 toward the initial construction, Palmquist said.
The city also is expected to receive $250,000 from the state’s Conservation Trust Funds, which come from the state’s lottery proceeds. However, the city of Cortez will not receive those funds until its audits are turned into the state, he said. The city is three years behind in its financial audits. Catching up on audits has been slowed by an investigation into possible embezzlement of city funds by a city employee.
If state funds come through, the city needs an additional $200,000 to start construction, he said. The city plans to work with Friends of Recreation for a Healthy Community to help raise some of that funding, he said.
The group recently adjusted its bylaws so it can help raise funds for construction projects, Palmquist said.
Palmquist said he doesn’t expect any city general funds to be used to cover the first $750,000 of construction.
So far, the city has spent $20,000 on conceptual plans and expects the design documents to cost $92,500. The Great Outdoors Colorado grant is going to cover $50,000 of the cost of design. City general funds will cover the remaining $42,000, Palmquist said.
The city wants to plan the park well so the infrastructure will last, he said.
“It takes a lot of time to plan a park right,” he said.
During later phases of construction, the city plans to put in restrooms, a multipurpose athletic field, exercise equipment and an inclusive playground for children of all abilities. A skate park, obstacle course and two BMX bike areas are also planned.
The city had planned to apply for a $1 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation grant for the park, he said. But the application for that grant is on hold, Palmquist said.
“With our current financial situation, it would probably hurt our changes of getting the funding,” he said.
In the meantime, the parks and rec department has taken over management of the property, Palmquist said.
The management was fairly minimal this year and focused on maintaining existing sprinkler system, he said.
“That field is in better shape than what it was prior,” he said.
The name for the park is also still in the works. The five possibilities are the Panther Park, Parque del Sol, South Park, Mountain View Park and Southside Community Park. The Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Advisory Board will review the possible names, and Cortez City Council will ultimately decide, he said.