Rangely trail project advances while new veterans’ memorial park nears completion

Town of Rangely employees, subcontracted to the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District, cut walkways through Hefley Park in west Rangely last week. The space, which will become a veterans’ memorial park, will feature a 1 1/4-life-sized soldier statue created by Meeker artist John Kobald and funded through collaborative efforts of the Meeker and Rangely VFWs, government entities, businesses and individuals in 2012-2013. An identical statue was unveiled on Meeker’s courthouse lawn on July 4, 2013.

Town of Rangely employees, subcontracted to the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District, cut walkways through Hefley Park in west Rangely last week. The space, which will become a veterans’ memorial park, will feature a 1 1/4-life-sized soldier statue created by Meeker artist John Kobald and funded through collaborative efforts of the Meeker and Rangely VFWs, government entities, businesses and individuals in 2012-2013. An identical statue was unveiled on Meeker’s courthouse lawn on July 4, 2013.

RANGELY I A non-motorized trails project in the works for more than two years approached completion this week while Town of Rangely subcontractors began work on a veterans’ memorial park in the existing Hefley Park last week.
The first link of a 16-mile, five-loop trail system outlined in a 2011 master plan is in its final weeks of construction, Rangely Town Manager Peter Brixius said Monday. Foot and bike traffic will soon cross the 10-foot-wide concrete path traveling the length of Royden Ditch, which joins South White and South Stanolind avenues. An access ramp at Sunset Avenue, gates at trail entrances, fencing and bank work have yet to be completed.
A $136,500 construction grant awarded by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in 2012 paid for the work. So did a condition of the grant, which mandated that 25 percent of the funding be matched by in-kind work or cash contributions. Town employees prepared and compacted the space before Grand Junction’s Mays Concrete poured cement last week, and those same employees will soon add fencing, install gates and finish reclamation work on the ditch’s banks.
Brixius said the project’s delay was probably funding-related.
“For some reason, the state was really pushing back the execution of the contract,” he said. “There must have been some funding issues. Rather than using lottery funds like GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) or state funding, they ended up using the funding from the federal government through Land and Water (Conservation Funds).”
Because sections of the loop system can be completed only when grant funding comes through and the town’s conservation trust fund has sufficient capital to pay for in-kind work, the entire process will take decades to complete. However, code compliance officer Vicki Pfennig is currently researching the next grant the town hopes to get, and when it does, reconstructing the asphalt trail parallel to Kennedy Drive is likely next in line.
“It’s in really poor shape right now,” Brixius said. “I’d hate to move onto something else without addressing that first … A good portion of that trail needs to be overlaid. Other parts need some shoring and retaining walls to prevent the mud from running over the trail.”
One architect’s plan has estimated costs for the Kennedy reconstruction at between $200,000 and $250,000 although altering the current plan could reduce that cost. Brixius hopes grants and in-kind work, the latter of which is always a condition of receiving state and federal funding, will make the project a reality in the next few years.
Just down the road from Royden Ditch, several Town of Rangely employees subcontracted out to the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan (WRBM) Recreation and Park District have cut walkways through and around Hefley Park with cement scheduled to be poured in the next week, WRBM Executive Director Tim Webber said.
The work is part of turning the green space into a veterans’ memorial park, which will become home to a 1¼-life-sized statue of a soldier crafted by Meeker sculptor John Kobald. An identical statue was erected on Meeker’s courthouse on July 4, 2013.
Several companies have donated or will donate materials and labor for the walkways, pedestal and lighting, among them Grand Junction’s Mays Concrete and Calvin Stucco, Meeker Sand and Gravel and Ducey’s Electric.
“Both the town and recreation district have been really big supporters of this project,” VFW Post 5261 Commander and Rio Blanco County-Rangely veterans service officer Hoot Gibson said. “Without the input from those folks, (the memorial) probably wouldn’t have happened for Rangely, too. The government entities on both ends of the counties have helped Meeker and us get it done. And so many people have donated time and money to make it happen.”
The statue’s placement and unveiling will happen sometime this fall.
Webber hopes the park’s “facelift,” which will include new lawn irrigation and ADA-compliant restrooms, will help draw locals and visitors alike to a part of town that includes W.C. “Bud” Striegel’s car museum and the Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism’s quarters.
“Ultimately, we want that whole corner to draw people in,” Webber said.
In other town news, Phase II of the water treatment plant’s $5.5 million, three-phase renovation project continues moving forward. Workers are currently installing piping on the plant’s exterior, and after they backfill around the pipes, construction will move back into the plant.
“The water plant itself looks like a missile testing site out there right now,” Brixius said.
Next on the team’s checklist will be constructing a filter apparatus and installing a new sodium hypochloride generator, which enables the town to generate its own chlorine rather than buy the chemical in compressed form.
Once that’s done, workers will replace several outdated electronic controls with new ones, at which point the plant will have complete redundancy, allowing it to produce water continually even if one side of the plant goes offline.
Phase II renovations have gone largely according to plan, though a leaking filter basin has caused some delays to the construction’s progress. Brixius hopes the basin will be remediated by Sept. 1.
The town initially hoped to complete all three reconstruction phases by 2015, but Phase III funding won’t likely be in place until 2016. The town will seek out additional grant money to finish the work, including a $1 million grant it hopes to receive from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
An algae bloom in the river that clogged filters last month has largely dissipated thanks to rains adding silt content to the river, Brixius said. Silts ground the algae to a finer texture and helped dissipate it.
Supporters of the “Save the Mine” campaign earlier this summer continue to wait for an Aug. 29 decision from the Environmental Protection Agency, which will determine whether a Title V permit will be issued to the Deseret Power Electric Cooperative with its original constraints, require Deseret’s Bonanza Power Plant to install current Best Available Control Technology (BACT) or some measure in between.
Finally, several resurfacing projects on Rangely’s residential streets are done, with a final paving project at the juncture of North Cedar Street and East Raven Avenue wrapping up the in-town road construction season.

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