Plans to upgrade the Miner's Statue area at Paonia Town Park are moving forward after trustees approved the issuing of requests for proposal for the project. Included in the plans are five separate concrete projects.
Up until now the town has considered several ideas for improving the area, said trustee David Bradford, who is spearheading efforts to revitalize the southwest corner of the park. Planning began last fall when the town was considering ideas for reducing maintenance costs in the park. The area around the statue is considered a high-maintenance area.
Trustee Bradford compiled a history of the statue and other memorial markers in the area, and a committee was formed to come up with a plan for the area. Members include Bradford; town administrator Ken Knight; public works director Travis Loberg; trustee Bill Bear; Don Emmons, who served on the original Miners Statue committee; Bob Bushta, liaison to the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado, which has funded prior projects including a memorial bench in the Miner's Statue area; and John Polous and Adam Camacho, who represent the mines and miners.
Poulos donated his time and expertise to draft plans for contract bids. While details have not been finalized, construction of a miner's commemorative wall, a separate, "non-miner" commemorative wall, relocation of the Melvina Clark pedestal (installed as a fountain, and which has been out of commission in recent years), and the laying of about 2,000 square feet of stamped concrete and stamped flagstone are included in the plans.
A metal archway will mark the entrance. Metal artist Ira Houseweart was selected by town trustees for the project and is working with the committee on design and placement. While existing concrete and surrounding vegetation will be removed to make way for the new project, the peonies and a plaque located in the southwest corner will remain.
The project hasn't been without controversy. Bradford addressed what he called rumors and misinformation circulating about the project, including that the public is being left out of the process. That's why a citizens' committee was formed, said Bradford. "We're trying to be as open as possible about this project." There have also been numerous public discussions, which are included in board minutes, said Bradford.
In response to concerns from trustee Suzanne Watson that concrete work and excavation will affect nearby trees or tree roots, trees already growing next to the ditch, said Poulos. "The concrete proposed for this project will not hamper the trees... anymore than the concrete ditch and pavement."
In addition, said Bradford, no trees will be removed to make way for the project.
The purpose of the project, said Bradford, is to create an attractive park entrance, minimize maintenance of the area, and to make the park more useful and friendly.
Another rumor, said Bradford, and one on which he received a pointed email, is that the section of concrete irrigation ditch flowing past the statue will be covered over. "We are not touching the ditch," said Bradford.
"The ditch is something inviolate," said Poulos, who was born and raised in Paonia. "You do not play with the ditch."
Bid proposals are due at Town Hall by March 16 and will be considered by trustees at the March 27 board meeting. Work is to be completed by May 11, with a dedication of the space to take place on Memorial Day, May 28, which also marks the 35th anniversary of the dedication of the Miner's Statue.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.