City officials negotiated the acquisition of 35 acres behind the River Landing shopping center (the Target and J.C. Penney area) that runs to the north, and includes a mile of riverfront property.
“This segment is a very important piece of the river corridor master plan,” city spokesman David Spear said, just minutes after a contract was signed by participating parties including landowner Jerry Trudell.
Last week, after an executive session, Montrose City councilors approved $30,000 toward the acquisition from the city’s Conservation Trust Fund. Contributing to the purchase was $300,000 from Delta Montrose Electric Association and a private donation of $100,000 from Jim and Sharen Branscome.
DMEA's help with the purchase derived from a recent commitment by the electric cooperative to increase fishing access in the area to offset the fishing access that will be eliminated in the South Canal when DMEA finishes its hydro electric project. (See next week's article on that hydro electric project in The Watch.)
"The proximity of the property in relation to the Montrose community is fantastic," said Jim Heneghan, a renewable energy engineer with DMEA.
In addition to the purchase, the parties involved are negotiating easements along the newly acquired property, so that people fishing can walk up and down the river without repercussions, Heneghan said.
For City Parks Planning and Project Manager Dennis Erickson, the acquisition is an exciting step in accomplishing goals set in city's riverway master plan.
"It means we are now going to have, in the public hands, a mile of river," he said. "It furthers the goals of the river master plan, which is to preserve, protect and enhance the river corridor."
The city's intent is to work with DMEA to enhance the fish habitat through fishing and recreation grant opportunities.
The riverway master plan also identifies trails and a pedestrian bridge in this area to connect both sides of the river.
Erickson said it could be a year before the city is ready to apply for those grants, but the property acquisition was a step in the right direction for improving river access and a win-win for the Montrose community.