Future Plans for North Gateway Park Discussed

Gateway Park City Council

The Lamar City Council is moving ahead with plans to improve the North Gateway Park, now that the council has annexed the property. Rick Akers, Lamar Parks and Recreation Director, and several members from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, briefed the council during a work session on early plans and ideas for improvements. The first step is securing a needed Fishing for Fun federal grant which will help finance early projects. Kevin Mahan said the total state funding for the year is $400,000 and the Lamar grant, which will be submitted in March, is much less than the full available amount. He added this is a competitive grant, so Lamar’s bid will be weighed against other entries, but members of the Department would accompany city representatives to speak before the review board in May.

Jim Ramsay, State Aquatic Biologist, told the council that the DP&W selects a regional project each year to partner with and the North Gateway Park development project was selected by DP&W for the southeast region of Colorado. “This will be huge for us,” said Lamar Mayor, Roger Stagner.

David Miller of the DP&W has met with council members and City Administrator John Sutherland to outline the initial plans for improvements, which will be conducted in phases over several years. Miller added, “Right now, we’re just exploring some ideas for improvements. Some will go into effect this year as funds allow and we’ll probably make some changes to these ideas as we move forward.”

Pond #1, the pond closest to the Arkansas River Bridge, has already seen the most work since last summer, as safety barriers have been erected and the slopes leading to the pond have been graded for safety. Several porta-potties and some picnic tables have also been set up near the pond. Akers said the first plans will include a permanent restroom facility once a grant has been secured. A two station facility, which will utilize chemical toilets, would cost $36,000 and approximately $26,000 for one station. Akers said, “We’re seeing a lot of fishing taking place at the first pond and we’re building a handicapped accessible fish pier.” He added that SDS residents have enjoyed fishing at the pond, but their physical limitations hinder their access down the slopes to the water’s edge. Ramsay said there were 5,000 trout stocked in the pond last year, and plans call for fish habitat structures such as old Christmas trees, brush piles and some pre-built structures to be set in the pond to encourage breeding.

Other suggestions for improvements included a small service boat ramp for biologists and the public. Ramsay said there has been talk to allow paddle, rowboats or electric powered boats into the ponds. A 2 3/4 mile walking trail around the 108 acres is planned along with shade shelters and picnic areas, and a channel connecting the second and third ponds was also suggested. This will allow easier fish stocking for the remaining ponds. Some wildlife viewing blinds for the two eastern ponds was also discussed as Canadian and Snowgeese will use that area as a resting spot. There will be no hunting allowed on any of the premises. Miller added that revegetation efforts will get underway around the first pond this spring and some willow and cottonwood trees will be planted for additional shade. Akers said the Lamar Tree Board has plans for 5th grade students to plant some trees in the park this Arbor Day.

The council approved a special events permit for the Lamar Eagles Lodge #3898 to host a Lamar Chamber of Commerce banquet on the night of January 30 and a Lamar Honkers Comedy Night on January 31. Both events will be located at 1220 South Main Street in Lamar. The Chamber banquet recognizes the transition of chamber president and several board of director members as well as presentations of the Citizen of the Year and the Humanitarian Awards. The comedy night helps raise funds which the Lamar Honkers donate to various non-profit groups in the city.

The council set a date of March 24, 2014 for a public hearing regarding the cable TV franchise renewal of Cablevision Systems Corporation, dba Optimum. The franchise contract expires September 13th of this year and the hearing will allow the citizens of Lamar to comment on approving or denying the renewal.

The city will purchase a new fire truck to help combat wild land fires. The unit described by Lamar Fire Chief Marshall Cook is a Weis 2015 Ford F-450 Type 6 wild land fire engine costing $100,035. Cook said the amount has been put in the 2014 budget and this model is being offered at $24,965 below the set aside. Cook explained this model truck will have access to the Wildland Urban Interface areas of the city, basically the four corners of Lamar where it abuts to open prairie. The fire chief explained the department’s three structural fire trucks are not built to get into these areas, while the Weis Model will easily pass over open prairie land. “We’ll have to use the new truck in tandem with the number three unit for a water source,” Cook explained. The Weis carries a 300 gallon water tank and the number three engine will supply it from its 1,000 gallon tank to combat fires. Cook said there is an opportunity for the City of Lamar to receive a better ISO rating for insurance. “Right now, we have a rating of 5 and improvements in dispatch, water systems in the city and fire department could improve our rating to a 4 designation,” he told the council. The vote was five in favor with Mayor Roger Stagner voting no.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the city and SECED, Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development, was approved by the council. The MOU allows the city to grant an Enterprise Zone designation for North Gateway Park. Donations made to the park can make use of a tax credit program which acts as an incentive to contribute to the development of the park.

The council approved an agreement to join COWARN, the Colorado Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network. Josh Cichocki, W/WW Director for Lamar, explained the agreement allows Lamar and other communities to share emergency resources among other agencies statewide. Cochocki said when a community’s water supply is interrupted for events such as a tornado, fire or other catastrophic event, the well-being of citizen’s can quickly deteriorate. The joint agreement aids the costly process of restoring a community’s water infrastructure.

Administrator Sutherland highlighted some future community events including this Thursday’s 93rd annual Lamar Chamber of Commerce Banquet at the Lamar Eagles Lodge, the February 5 council informal breakfast at 7am at Taco Johns, the February 11 Sweetheart Swing dessert and dance at the Shore Arts Center from 7pm to 9pm and reminded Lamar residents the city offices will be closed Monday, February 17 for President’s Day. Sutherland displayed a map of Lamar’s city streets which was developed to highlight those roadways which have been prioritized as in need of repairs. “We have 60 miles of city streets and we’re marking 13 miles worth to get attended to first,” he said, adding that the 2014 street improvement budget was doubled from last years. “We have to attend to the extension for Camino de Santa Fe, and then we’ll start on the repairs,” Sutherland stated.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: communityEconomyEntertainmentEnvironmentFeaturedFire Department-RespondersFishing ReportLamarPublic SafetyRecreationSportsTourismYouth


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