MONTROSE – The City of Montrose and the Montrose Recreation District submitted a joint application last month for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant of up to $350,000 to “substantially improve Baldridge Park,” Montrose’s most-used park complex.
According to a press release, proposed improvements include Montrose Water Park, “a whitewater park on the Uncompahgre River through Baldridge Park, to provide a variety of activities, including kayaking, tubing, swimming, and spectating.”
The application also proposes to add 1,990 feet of concrete trail along the river, 1,920 feet of soft-surface trail, new signage and, at the Ute/McNeil Fields, “a sensory playground, fitness stations, picnic tables and baseball/softball field enhancements;” the whitewater park is the big-ticket item.
During the Uncompahgre Riverway Master Plan process, conducted over the last few years by the City and MRD (with consulting help from DHM Design and RPI Consulting of Durango), Montrose citizens chose a whitewater park and an extended river trail as their top-priority projects. Two additional surveys showed widespread citizen support for the other project components. Proposed improvements to the Ute and McNeil fields would improve safety for baseball/softball participants, and provide additional amenities for park users.
The benefits of the project – Baldridge Park serves over 100,000 residents in Montrose and beyond – will extend to residents of the region, as well as tourists. In a groundswell of local support, a cash match (of 66.9 percent of the total cost) has been secured from several organizations, including all GOCO eligible agencies in Montrose, including the city, MRD and the county (which in January pledged $50,000 toward engineering). Two citizen-based non-profits were critical in the cash-match partnership – Friends of the River Uncompahgre and Welcome Home Montrose, with FORU encouraging and furthering the creation of the River Master Plan, and Welcome Home Montrose bringing together all GOCO eligible agencies (the organization's founder, Melanie Kline, was inspired to start the group after seeing a story on CBS about veterans using an Americans with Disabilities Act water park for therapy and healing.
If the GOCO grant award is a go, the City and MRD will next meet about Baldridge Park on June 11.