Hopes sink for Palisade whitewater park | AspenTimes.com
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Hopes sink for Palisade whitewater park

Paul Shockley
Grand Junction correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

PALISADE ” Pete Winn is shopping for a $2 to $3 million whitewater recreation park.

“Unless I win the Powerball Wednesday, no, this probably isn’t going to happen,” said Winn, in a reference to a Thursday deadline to raise cash to build a whitewater recreation park on the Colorado River near Palisade, in western Colorado.

Winn and other whitewater enthusiasts Monday were still $1.9 million short of funding needed to make the project happen. Winn, a Grand Junction resident, has been part of a group pushing the park idea since 1998.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s deadline to raise the money is Thursday.

Palisade Town Administrator Tim Sarmo said park prospects looked dim, but he held out hope.

“We’ve still got feelers out there,” Sarmo said.

Bureau officials announced last month that the Cedaredge-based firm Kissner G.C. Inc., won the contract to build a fish passage at the Price-Stubb Diversion Dam on the Colorado River.

Kissner and other companies that participated in the process bid on a design that incorporated a whitewater park, and a second design for a fish passage only. Federal authorities refused to disclose the number of bids received.

Kissner’s winning bids: $12 million including the park, $9.7 for just the fish passage.

An effort led by the town of Palisade to cover that difference stands at about $1 million in cash or pledges.

Per an agreement with federal authorities, the town and other park supports were given 30 days to come up with the difference. If the money’s not there Thursday, the bureau is expected to award Kissner a contract to build the fish ladder, said bureau planner Brent Uilenburg.

The ladders are built to help four endangered fish species to swim around the dam.

While down on chances for a park at the Price-Stubb Dam, Winn said all isn’t lost if supporters come up short Thursday.

“We will have a whitewater park … this (Price-Stubb) was best site we found in town,” Winn said.

Winn noted that a consultant retained in 1998 by Western Association To Enjoy Rivers identified five locations along the Colorado ” from Palisade to Fruita ” whose natural characteristics suited whitewater recreation.

Sarmo said he didn’t want to look too far beyond Thursday.

“If we don’t receive what we need, I’ll at least investigate alternative sites,” Sarmo said. “But it seems contrary to the intent of the Price-Stubb project to talk about any alternatives prior to April 12.”

The bulk of the roughly $1 million raised for the park exists in the form of grant pledges, Sarmo said. Contracts, he said, haven’t been signed and money hasn’t changed hands. The grants include $350,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado, $420,000 from the Department of Local Affairs, $50,000 from the Colorado Riverfront Commission, and $100,000 from the city of Grand Junction.


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