By Randi Pierce | Staff Writer
The board of directors for the Veterans Memorial Park of Archuleta County, located off Vista Boulevard near U.S. 160, is seeking additional funding to complete construction of a parking lot at the park.
A group of representatives for the park, including board president Karin Daniels, approached the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners at the board’s Aug. 9 work session to update the commissioners on the project and to ask for additional funding to help reach completion.
“We have done a lot,” Daniels told the board, explaining they have embarked on phase 1, which is the parking lot completion project, with the park closing on May 23 for work to begin.
“After an intense fundraising campaign in the spring, we accomplished our goal to raise the funds necessary to meet the criteria to get on Common Ground’s schedule to advance construction on the remaining two-thirds of the parking lot. That was $144,000 to get started. Our goal is $226,000 for full completion of the parking lot,” an update on the park shared with The SUN reads.
It continues, “We started the campaign with $61,000 and to date have raised over $120,000 equaling a total of $181,000.00. We have accomplished this through generous personal, business and county government donations, brick sales, lifetime memberships, memorial gifts, and the 7th annual golf tournament. “
To date, Daniels told the commissioners, the park’s board has paid about $151,000.
She also discussed some of the challenges facing the project, including weather, price increases and subcontractors backing out.
“There have been some challenges with this project. The rainy weather is wreaking havoc on the surface. Also to mention are price increases of over 15%, broken commitments from sub-contractors, labor shortages and difficulty obtaining materials,” the update reads.
Daniels also mentioned earlier in the meeting that, despite the park being closed, it continues to be used, adding later in the discussion people also move the cones and drive into the closed area to use the portable toilet.
She told the commissioners the group is about $40,000 short of the full completion and outlined the three options facing the park’s board:
• Install all curb, gutter and sidewalks at a cost of $107,294.
• Only install curb and gutter with a gravel finish for the parking lot, saving sidewalks for later, at a cost of $65,156.
• End the project as an unfinished gravel parking lot that cannot be used and would have to be barricaded off until the curb and gutter can be finished.
Daniels noted the latter option would not be fair to the community and is not in line with the park’s mission.
She indicated the group is doing what it can to raise funds for curb and gutter in line with its original goal.
“The [Veterans Memorial Park] made the decision to go ahead and install only the curb and gutter with a gravel finish for a cost of $65,156. The curb and gutter will finish the parking lot so it will at least be usable. We will install the sidewalks at another time and perhaps in sections as funds are raised. We have to raise $40,000 to complete this step of the project. This will take us up to our original goal of $226,000,” the update explains.
Daniels told the commissioners the contractor has absorbed more than $30,000 on the project so far and is working seven days a week.
She added the group has more than $25,000 in its construction account toward the work, and has ideas and plans to fundraise, including writing grants and talking to interested donors.
She then asked if the county had funds it could give, noting that there has previously been discussions about funding, including in perpetuity.
“We do need the help right now,” she said.
Commissioner Ronnie Maez explained he had asked County Manager Derek Woodman about the use of remaining 1A funding the day before, and noted the county has Conservation Trust funding.
“I would like to see this through, personally,” he said, adding there has been a lot put toward the project and he doesn’t want to stop part way.
Commissioner Warren Brown then asked what grants the group is looking into, with Daniels indicating she was working on an El Pomar Foundation grant application and looking into others.
Brown also informed the park’s board members that the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation has a grant writer that is a community resource and informed them of another potential grant opportunity.
Later in the discussion, Maez noted the county needs to put more thought into funding the park since it will own it and suggested the county start working the park into its budget now.
Daniels noted the county is already paying for water access at the site.
Commissioner Alvin Schaaf also expressed his support for the project, noting that it’s a “good project” and the county will do whatever it can.
The commissioners showed more support for the project on Tuesday, Aug. 16, approving a letter of support for a grant application to the El Pomar Foundation at its regular meeting.
That letter outlines that the Veterans Memorial Park of Archuleta County formed in 2013 as a nonprofit organization “for the sole purpose of building a community park dedicated to the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces.”
It notes that, in October 2014, the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association deeded a 6.9-acre park site off Vista Boulevard to the county, which in turn donated it to the Veterans Memorial Park board to be developed as a memorial park and public recreation site.
“The organization is currently comprised of a Board of Directors of seven active members. The [Veterans Memorial Park] Board has been able to raise funds and complete several projects that have opened the doors to increased daily usage, increased interest and support, and increased contributions,” the letter states.
It continues, “The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (the ‘BoCC’) fully supports the Veterans Memorial Park and its endeavors to create and develop this meaningful project. As this park is being developed, it has shown to be a benefit to people of all ages and physical capabilities while paying tribute to those who served in our armed forces.
“The BoCC has been and will continue to be supportive and enthusiastic about the Veterans Memorial Park and its amenities that are being offered to this community through this project.”
For more information about the park and organizations or to donate, visit https://vetsmemorialpark.org/.