Black Forest Regional Park Improvements
The trails within Black Forest Regional Park sustained significant damages from the Black Forest Fire and post-fire flooding. Several sections were damaged beyond repair, are now flood-prone, or traverse through severely charred areas within the Park. Staff will complete a trail inventory to identify sections of trail for repair, re-route and/or closure. Trail signage will be updated to reflect any re-routes and incorporate the trails within Cathedral Pines. A drainage plan will be completed to identify specific drainage and soil stabilization efforts to mitigate future flooding impacts to the trails and active use area. Forest management prescriptions will be completed to promote forest regeneration. Funding will be provided by $200,000 of 1A funds.
Drake Lake Repairs/Improvements
The parking lot, picnic area and wetlands were damaged during spring 2015 flood events. In addition to the flood repairs, a new trail will be installed along the north/eastern shore to a reconfigured picnic area and viewpoint using regional park fees. FEMA and State flood recovery money will fund repairs in 2016 and $50,000 is budgeted in 2017 for additional capital improvements.
Rock Island Regional Trail Expansion
This project includes extending the Rock Island Regional Trail west, atop an old railroad bridge, to the High Prairie Library in Falcon. This project will also provide a trail connection to the residential communities east of the Library, and will connect to the primary commercial area in Falcon and to the Meridian Road corridor. Bridge and trail design was completed in 2015, with procurement being the next step. Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2016. Project funds total $96,000, and include $56,000 in Regional Park fees leveraged with a $34,000 State Trails grant and $6,000 in third party donations and in-kind professional services.
Flood Recovery and Regional Trail Repairs
Several sections of the Fountain Creek Regional Trail were damaged during spring 2015 flood events. Damaged locations include Maxwell Street Trailhead, Fishers Canyon, Stratmoor Valley Trailhead and trail, trail near I-25 north of Camping World, Highway 16 Bridge at Willow Springs and Hanson Trailhead. Additionally, the Rock Island Regional Trail was damaged near Judge Orr Road and Black Forest Section 16 sustained trail and parking lot damage. Debris removal will be required at several locations, especially at the Rock Island Trail and Hanson Trailhead. Planning and Public Services staff will coordinate repairs in 2016 using FEMA, State and local flood recovery funds.
New Santa Fe Regional Trail Repairs
Several sections of the trail corridor located on the United States Air Force Academy present continued maintenance and safety issues. The County contracted with Tapis and Associates to complete an assessment of the New Santa Fe Trail through the Air Force Academy, which was completed in the fall of 2014. The assessment identified risk management issues and proposed trail user satisfaction improvements. Due to the heavy rains of May 2015, an updated assessment was completed to determine the full extent of the damages. A total of $50,000 in 1A funds has been budgeted in 2016 to initiate the final design and needed improvements which may be coupled with FEMA funding. Using sustainable trail construction techniques and addressing onsite erosion will enhance the safety of the trail and reduce the continued maintenance needs of the corridor. Repairs involving major drainageways will be coordinated with Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District development of the Monument Creek Restoration Master Plan.
Pineries Open Space Project
FEMA, State and insurance-funded building repairs and installation of a new restroom as an alternate FEMA project in 2015 are paving the way for a first phase of trail and recreation improvements in the Pineries Open Space. State Department of Natural Resources-funded forest recovery work is anticipated in 2016, following the completion of a rare plant assessment and culturally modified tree inventory in 2015. The first phase of improvements per the Pineries Open Space Master Plan includes approximately 8.2 miles of trail (4.2 miles of primary regional trail and 3.82 miles of single-track trail), main trailhead with separate equestrian and hike/bike parking areas, outdoor classroom and corral. The total cost of the first phase recreation facilities is estimated at approximately $400,000. County Parks proposes to commit $200,000 from the regional park fee fund and $200,000 of 1A funds to the project.
Rainbow Falls Renovation
Surface Transportation Improvement Program Transportation Enhancement Grant funds were secured through the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in the amount of $308,000 for access, trail, park and bank stabilization improvements at Rainbow Falls Recreation Area. These funds have been matched with $72,000 of regional park fees and $5,000 in third party support for a total project budget of $385,000. The final design process has been completed. Procurement of a general contractor is the next step upon CDOT’s notice to proceed. Construction will commence in late 2015/early 2016 and will be completed in 2016. FEMA funds are also available to repair flood damaged areas outside the larger project.
Maxwell Street Trailhead Streambank Protection
The Maxwell Street Trailhead was severely damaged during the September 2013 flood event. FEMA, State and local funds were used to stabilize approximately 300 feet of the toe of the bank. Additional bank stabilization is needed above, upstream and downstream of the existing armoring to protect the trail and trailhead, State Highway bridge and electric and water utility infrastructure. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has made a Federal Interest Determination, executed a cost sharing agreement with the County and is preparing a feasibility study/environmental assessment in collaboration with the County and local partners. The USACE has committed $275,000 to the study and is prepared to cover 65% of the construction costs which are estimated at approximately $2.5 million. The feasibility study and final design will be completed in 2016 and construction is anticipated in 2017-2018. The Planning Division secured $945,000 in CDBG-DR funds as the local match for the feasibility study and construction.
USACE Section 205 Project
The County requested assistance from the USACE several years ago for flood control projects that would protect park and recreation assets as well as other infrastructure. The program provides up to $7 million per project. In November of 2015 the County received word that the USACE is ready to proceed with the feasibility phase, which begins with a cost/benefit analysis and federal interest determination. The newly adopted Master Plan for Upper Fountain Creek, developed by the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District with El Paso County as a partner, will serve as the basdis for proposed improvements.
Falcon Regional Park Project
The recently-adopted Falcon Regional Park Master Plan provides recommendations for facilities in this new 215-acre regional park in the north-central portion of the County to serve the area’s rapidly growing population. Final design plans for Phase 1A were completed in 2015 and construction services were procured. Construction of baseball fields, parking and park amenities commenced in 2015 and will be completed by June, 2016. County Parks budgeted $250,000 in 1A funds, $700,000 in regional park fees, and $100,000 in windpower mitigation funds for the project. Third-party support from the High Plains Little League and Eastern Plains Chamber of Commerce round out the Phase 1A budget which is just over $1 million.
Elephant Rock Open Space Acquisition
The 63-acre parcel with a conservation easement held by Palmer Land Trust has been proposed for sale to the County for open space and recreation purposes. The property is immediately adjacent to the New Santa Fe Regional Trail and the parcel where Elephant Rock is located, offering beautiful views from a number of vantage points. A looped trail system with connections to the New Santa Fe Trail would be developed on the site. The acquisition process was initiated in 2014 and $308,500 of the $340,000 needed to acquire the property has been secured from $200,000 in regional park fees, $100,000 in 1A funds, and $8,500 from local partners. Additional fundraising for the remaining $31,500 is planned so that the acquisition can be completed.
Christian Open Space Trail
El Paso County Parks and the City of Fountain received a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in 2015 to continue the Front Range Trail from the south end of Fountain Creek Regional Park to Hwy 85/87 in downtown Fountain near I-25. The trail will be located adjacent to Bandley Drive, before continuing along Crest Drive, then back into the open space, then to Highway 85/87. The total cost of the project is $181,686 with $168,586 of CDBG funds and $13,000 from in-kind contributions. Clearances were initiated in 2015. The Planning Division will prepare final design plans for the trail as the in-kind contribution and the trail will be installed in 2016.
County Fairgrounds Improvements
El Paso County is updating the County Fairgrounds master plan in 2015 which will determine existing facilities that need upgrades to improve functionality, protect infrastructure, and enhance user experience, identify new facilities to expand user experiences, and the creation of potential new or expanded recreation and cultural programming opportunities that may also expand revenue generation opportunities to support the operation of the Fairgrounds. The first phase of improvements are scheduled to begin in late 2015 through 2016. Funding is provided by $200,000 from 1A funds, $100,000 from the windpower project, and $100,000 from regional park fees. A capital campaign is also being conducted to raise additional funds.
Fountain Creek Regional Park Improvements
Upon completion of the Fountain Creek Regional Park Master Plan update, staff will identify those areas of improvement that will enhance the user experience and solidify current infrastructure, while following guidelines set forth in the Master Plan. The project budget includes $75,000 of 1A funds and $125,000 of regional park fees for a total project budget of $200,000 in 2016.
Jones Park Improvements
The City of Colorado Springs deeded the 1,200 acre Jones Park site to El Paso County in January, 2015. El Paso County is participating with the United States Forest Service and the City of Colorado Springs in the completion of a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The assessment findings will include trail modifications and erosion control improvements needed at Jones Park to address Bear Creek water quality issues related to the greenback cutthroat trout that is currently listed as threatened on the federal Endangered Species List. It is anticipated the NEPA process will be completed by the end of 2015. Improvements are scheduled to be completed in 2016 with $200,000 from 1A funds and $250,000 from a Colorado Water Conservation Board grant.
Ute Pass Regional Trail Expansion
Construction of the regional trail will be completed as outlined in the Ute Pass Regional Trail Master Plan which was approved by the Board of County Commissioners in late 2015. $150,000 of 1A funds were leveraged in 2015 towards two grant opportunities - a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Non-Motorized State Trails Grant for the first phase of improvements starting at Ute Pass Elementary School, and a Transportation Improvement Program Grant (2017-2022) through the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments and the Colorado Department of Transportation to complete design of the entire trail corridor with associated multi-modal transportation improvements.
General Trail Improvements
Several segments of regional trail are in need of restoration due to damages from recent flooding and/or heavy use. Park Operations staff will coordinate with Planning staff to identify critical repair needs in each District. Parks will commit $72,379 of 1A funds in 2016 to the trail improvement projects.