Green Mountain Falls Lake and Gazebo Area Facing Major Re-haul

Project to nearly hit the $500,000 mark

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

Move over Woodland Park, with your Memorial Park facelift.

The town of Green Mountain Falls has now entered the park upgrade arena big-time, with plans unveiled last week for a nearly $500,000 enhancement of one of its central features: the lake and Gazebo area. For decades, this area has emerged as the central focus of Green Mountain Falls. Now, this same theme will be pronounced in a bolder fashion, but without any major redesigns. “We want to upgrade the lake without changing the feel and vibe (of the park),” said Tom Hughes, a lake design consultant and member of the local trails committee. He touted the importance of maintaining the historic character of this area, but with an emphasis on making necessary improvements. “It is a huge step in the right direction,” said Green Mountain Falls Mayor Jane Newberry, following a unanimous decision by the trustees last week to proceed with the “Gazebo Lake Park” enhancement project.

The project, which will result in a two-month closure of the entire Gazebo park area in 2018, including the hosting of any weddings, will feature such amenities as a new fishing pier and related fishing preservation hospital; a vastly updated trail and path area with historic rail tracks and complete handicap access; better connections with Fountain Creek and an updated drainage system; new grass and sodding work for the park; enhanced stabilization of park boulders and rocks; a new bridge to the Gazebo island and wall area; new restrooms and much more. More importantly, the lake will become a much more healthy body of water, without the current problems that have plagued the lake in recent years with an overabundance of sediment, according to initial plans.

The total price tag for the project is slated at $472,000. Newberry last week expressed much optimism that the town could finance a good portion of the project through state and federal grants. Currently, the city is vying for a major $286,000 Fishing Is Fun grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency. This money is aimed making the lake more angler-friendly, and will include a new fishing pier and preservation hospital to ensure better conditions for the fish. In addition, the town will apply for a nearly $100,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) for park improvements and a smaller Community Development grant to enhance the shoreline  to improve accessibility for disabled anglers and visitors.

Even though the park won’t close until the summer of 2018, town leaders face a time crunch in order to snag the necessary grants  “It is a tight window, but it is doable,” said the mayor, during last week’s lake improvement discussion. If the project proceeds on schedule, the entire rehab work will be completed by mid-October 2018. It will involve a complete two month closing of the lake, the Gazebo island and park for two months, starting in mid-August 2018. No weddings or special events can occur during this period.

The majority of the proposed costs, though, will go towards lake enhancements, with nearly $180,000 allotted for this element of the project. Other costly items include $64,000 for storm water drainage, $60,000 for a new Gazebo island wall and $48,000 in immediate park improvements. The elected leaders realize this is an ambitious project, with a price tag that nearly rivals GMF’s entire annual general fund. Even if the town is successful in landing these grants, it could face a hefty bill in the form of local matches, generally expected at 25 percent of the award amounts. The mayor hopes to offset these costs with in-kind service and contributions.

She also announced last week a plan to solicit private donations to help move the project forward. Another important and overlooked aspect of the enhancements involves outdated restroom facilities. During last week’s meeting, the mayor told residents that with the closure of the popular Waldo Canyon trail due to the fire and floods, the trails of GMF are experiencing an increasing number of users. And local businesses are getting bombarded with visitors seeking to use their restrooms facilities. “Our trails have been more used than ever before,” said the mayor.

If the lake and Gazebo park project takes off, GMF could experience even more visitors. During last week’s discussion, no one argued against pursuing the project. “We expect that by refurbishing the lake, fixing the drainage, and re-rocking the perimeter, the wildlife habitat and town will both benefit,” stated town officials in their presentation. “The lake (aquatic environment) will provide a much cooler, safer habitat for the fish and migratory birds. The perimeter restoration and outlet reconstruction provides for the safety of all concerned. We anticipate a renewed interest and enthusiasm for recreational activities in the park, resulting in a financial and moral benefit to the town. Careful design features will reduce effort required to maintain the lake itself and improve access for future dredging needs.”