From a football field and a multi-lane running track, to a river trail with interpretive signing, horseshoe pits, Frisbee golf and a slack line, the ideas were almost endless. These and other concepts were brought to the first of three public meetings held Monday night as part of the process to create a master plan for a proposed sports facility on the 17-acre Paonia Junior-Senior High School campus.
About 50 people, including project planning committee members, parents, school staff and District 50J representatives attended the meeting to share ideas about what the facility might include. Handicap accessibility, a safe place for kids to play, and compatibility with existing and future facilities, such as the Paonia River Park, library and possible future trails, were all part of the discussion.
Paonia is the only school in the district without a sports facility. The planning process has been ongoing for about 10 years, said planning committee chair Cindy Swartzendruber. About three years ago the committee raised roughly $3,000 from private donations for a playground, and found that the money wasn't enough. At that rate, she said, a sports facility like the one envisioned would never be built.
About two years ago, the committee contacted local businessman Bill Koch for advice. He pointed them to grant writer Christine Fischer, and last fall the school district, in cooperation with the Town of Paonia, obtained a $75,000 Great Outdoors Colorado planning grant. The Koch family added another $25,000 matching grant. "I will say over and over again how grateful we are" to the Koch family, said Swartzendruber.
Design Concepts Community and Landscape Architects, out of Lafayette, was selected to guide the planning process and create a master plan. Principal landscape architect Shanen Weber moderated the meeting, the first of three public meetings intended to gather input on the project.
The ultimate vision might also include a baseball/softball facility, tennis courts, parking, lighting, restroom facilities and much more. And while consideration must be given to other entities and adjoining property owners, "The biggest obstacle is cost, everybody knows it," said Weber. To address that concern, the final master plan will break the project down into phases based on priorities and funding.
"This is a little piece of a greater vision," said Swartzendruber. "There are lots of needs in this community. Lots."
One feature that sets the PHS project apart from others that CD has worked on is the riverfront property, which Weber called "a rare, huge opportunity" for the community.
A preliminary master plan will be presented at the next public meeting on May 29. Public input at that phase is crucial to the process, said Weber. From that meeting the final master plan will be created, and is expected to be presented at the final open house meeting on July 19. The master plan will make it possible for the committee to apply for construction grants.
Weber said after the meeting that she was impressed by the number of people at the meeting and the amount of public interest and input so far. "It's obvious that this means a lot to the community," she said. "They're on the right track."blog comments powered by Disqus