Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

Grand Junction Parks & Rec + Forestry Dept - Ken Sherbenou + Rob Davis - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group

November 17, 2021 Ken Sherbenou + Rob Davis Season 1 Episode 20
Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Grand Junction Parks & Rec + Forestry Dept - Ken Sherbenou + Rob Davis - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group
Show Notes Transcript

Christi sits down with the Director of Grand Junction Parks & Recreation, Ken Sherbenou, and with the City Forester, Rob Davis, to talk new parks, how to protect your trees, and the exciting projects on the horizon for our city!

To find out more about what is happening in Grand Junction parks, visit their website.

If you prefer video, check the video out on YouTube!

Speaker 1:

The full circle podcast, compelling interviews and incredible tales from Colorado's Western slope, from the mountains to the desert, Kristie Reese and her team here from the movers, shakers, and characters of the grand valley and surrounding mountain towns that make the Western slope, the place we all love. You'll learn. You'll laugh. You'll love with the full circle. Hi everyone. Welcome back to the full circle podcast. I'm Kristie Reese, and I'm really excited and honored today to have two guests from the city of grand junction. We have Ken Charbonneau, director of parks and recs and Rob Davis, the city Forester. Welcome gentlemen, thank you

Speaker 2:

So much for having

Speaker 1:

Us really glad you're here. And , um, there's obviously a wide variety of things we can talk about, but the reason we were excited to initially invite you was , uh , a lot of us are concerned with our trees this time of year and with the leaves falling. I think it's a topic in a lot of people's minds. So we thought that this would be a great topic for this time of year. And we're excited to learn more about the trees and the city system and the parks and recreation and the master plan. So , um, I'd like to start off by hearing a little bit of your history, how you got to grand junction and how you , um, got into this position. So let's start with you, Rob.

Speaker 2:

Okay. So , um, I, I'm a Colorado native. I grew up on the front range , uh, went to Colorado state university and , uh, I have a degree in forestry management , um, spend time at different cities , uh, along the way in my career. Uh , most recently I worked for the city and county of Denver as their city Forester. And in 2019 I saw an opportunity over here. Um, as somebody that's grown up on the front range and watched the development watched more and more people , um, this opportunity to come over to what kind of felt more like what I remember Colorado feeling like when I was younger , uh, took advantage of it. And , uh, I got lucky enough to get a spot here with the city doing kind of the same thing I've done over and over again for different cities over the course of about 22 years and fantastic. That's where I'm at now.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. So , um, you grew up on the front range and , um, I can't imagine what it's like to manage the trees in those larger cities. I mean, that's, we have a lot of trees here, but in this big city, like Denver,

Speaker 2:

It's , it's really different. And I don't know that everybody, I don't know if grand junction residents really realize just how great they have it here. Uh, programs are all designed differently in the city and county of Denver. We had 187,000 street trees, but every adjacent landowner was responsible to take care of them. So the city would issue notices. You know, you have 30 days to make your tree, you know, kind of that more of a regulatory type of authority. And one of the things I liked about grand junction is the city here has kind of taken on more of that direct care. So here we are residents basically get that as a service that the city provides. So, you know, pruning and removal planting, it's a, it's a really unique relationship where we have to rely on the adjacent landowner because we will prune we'll remove. But if that adjacent property owner, isn't there to give it, the carrot needs from watering, then you know , that relationship kind of spirals out at that point. And that's one of the most important things to me is just helping residents understand that yes, the city will prune a tree, but what really matters is that they're there to provide them , uh , a good routine watering schedule to really maintain health.

Speaker 1:

And we'll get back. We'll circle around back to that a little bit more , um, can tell us a little bit about how you ended up , uh, in your position and in grand junction.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So it's actually fairly similar to Rob in terms of coming from the front range. Initially, I was born there as well and went to grad school undergrad on the front range and worked for Denver parks and rec and other commonality that Rob and I have , um, came over here about 11 years ago. Um, had an opportunity in Montrose and was the , got to lead the rec recreation district and mantras for about a decade. And then came up here shortly thereafter, been here for about two years. And my gosh, there is a ton of stuff going on. It's, it's very exciting place to be with a lot of opportunity for progress and improve service.

Speaker 1:

You have a lot of divisions under your purview. I mean, how do you manage so many different things? I mean, when I , when I looked at the list of everything in parks and recs, I was surprised

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. A lot of people don't realize the extensiveness of our departments . We , we touch a lot of , uh , community in a lot of different areas from horticulture. That's working on our medians and our roundabouts and downtown and supporting them the amazing events and beautiful flowers that are there to forestry with 37,000 trees that are critical to aesthetic and environmental benefit to facilities managing our 35 developed parks from Canada , new to Lincoln park to now ask Polonius , um, quite extensive, as well as the recreation side, you know, we've got recreation facilities and programs, and we really try to have an off , uh , offer a comprehensive list of services for most, every age and interests that we can so that people can be healthy and active

Speaker 1:

Yes. And wonderful that we have such an active community and we support them.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Our system here is just astounding how wonderful it is. We have so much to be proud of in this community , uh , from the stadium, which we're in the middle of renovating right now with our partners, with the Juco CMU and school district 51 , uh, I think the community for one will be very excited and pretty shocked on the improvement that they'll see at the stadium come next may. So that things like that happening. And , uh, yeah, there's just a time to , for things to happen . It's really, yeah .

Speaker 1:

Wonderful. And how many employees do you have in the parks and rec program?

Speaker 3:

So we have 57 full-time employees. Um, that's , uh, including the 20, 22 additions, we'll have four additional full-time staff. As our system continues to grow. We need to make sure that we have resources to maintain a high level of quality. So there'll be some additional staff people coming to our team in 2022. And then we have around 250 part-time staff. We have the largest number of part-time staff of any department. We're one of the biggest employers of youth, for example, where a lot of people's first job with lifeguards. And , um,

Speaker 1:

Oh , I didn't even think about lifeguards. I'm thinking plants and parks. And is it mostly summer?

Speaker 3:

Yes. Summer camp is another huge program. We run seven different sites for 300 kids on average per day. And those are all staffed by our part-time staff. And a lot of them are young people and a lot of , a lot of young people that are going into careers like recreation or education, or, you know, they're our future stewards. Um, and so it's really wonderful to have that additional impact.

Speaker 1:

Are you communicating with the outdoor recreation program that's been created at CMU also? Is that something you work together with

Speaker 3:

Some there's a little bit overlap? Um, one that pops in my mind, we were , uh, we did a tour of the phase two connect trail that we're proposing for our 2022 budget. Uh, we met with GOCO and colorless land trust yesterday, and we were talking about some of the overlap that's connected to that outdoor program and some of the stewardship effort that they're having with GOCO right now. So there are some, there's definitely more opportunity though. I think that we'd be interested in exploring in the future. Awesome. Cause it's, it's pretty amazing that that program has been created.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's great. Isn't it, we're such an in a unique location to be able to make that

Speaker 3:

Happen. It's definitely a great training ground,

Speaker 1:

Rob. Um , talk a little bit about your department. How many employees do you have in the forestry department and , and what are the main tasks that you oversee?

Speaker 2:

So we have four arborists. And so those positions are really the individuals that do most of the, kind of the day-to-day maintenance work. Uh, we have a forestry crew leader and we have a plant health care specialist. So it's kind of a team of six , uh, as Ken noted, we will bring on seasonal staff during the , that time of year as well. Um, we kind of have this, a little bit of a mixed schedule. It's got a little bit of seasonality to it. So right now , um, you wouldn't think of this necessarily, but it's Christmas lights, so main street.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. I'm seeing more and more people starting to get those out.

Speaker 2:

So, so this time of year, we do dedicate a fair amount of time to getting all of main street in Colorado. Uh, the trees lit up , um, but that's kind of one of the smallest pieces of what we do. Um, once we finished with that, we'll move into the winter removals. So we tend to do a lot of tree removal during the winter. And then once we start to hit the spring, we have a pretty big push towards tree planting. Um, if, if anybody had a right of way space adjacent to their property in grand junction, the city does provide free street trees for people ,

Speaker 1:

Uh , which is another amazing thing that the city, that's a

Speaker 2:

Pretty unique thing that grand junction does as well. So , uh, planting and you've got like Arbor day and kind of that public engagement education with kids, that sort of thing. And then in the, in the summertime, we'll do tree pruning, which is pretty much , uh , June through , uh , kind of the beginning of fall. And then we'll do a fall push for planting. So you almost have this cyclical , uh , kind of thing that's happening. But , um, the other pieces to it is plant health . Care's mixed in there. So we have tree treatments. Uh , we did a lot of treatments of Ash trees this last year.

Speaker 1:

Maybe you can talk about for those people that have seen , uh , a paint dot and not know what they mean.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So it was kind of interesting. Cause last season I reached out to Ken and our city manager and I said, I need to get your guys's attention. And we need to go look at some of this stuff. And we went out and I started to show them some of the Ash trees. We have some, a couple of insects that are causing a lot of problems, a lot of dye back in those trees and what compounds that as Asher , our number one public tree . So we have more Ash than any other tree in our parks.

Speaker 1:

And you said 37,000 trees in your system.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So, so it's about roughly 20% of our public trees are Ash trees. So your , what does that roughly one in one in six, one in five trees are going to end up being an ashtray as you're walking up and down the street. So , um, after we took a look at this, the , our , our city manager and Ken , they basically help prepare a plan for us, give us some supplemental funding. And we kind of took off with a little bit of a , a quick action treatment plan where any ashtray that was in a park or along a street, got a plant health care treatment. Um, when we were kind of rolling with that at a really fast pace, our plant health care specialist was noting things with, you know , just a green dot for treated or black dot for too far gone to qualify for treatment. And then that kind of turned into the green, green and black dot question around town. Um, so green dots are better than black dots. Um, but it's really a big effort to try to slow down a pest problem in the city.

Speaker 1:

And , and you were not , um, tagging trees that were on private property just in right of ways .

Speaker 2:

Okay. And it's kind of challenging because in the older part of town, you have a detached sidewalk where you've got that tree lawn strip. That's really easy to identify, but in other parts of town, the sidewalk is attached to the street or there is no sidewalk. Yep . And those the right of way varies quite a bit. So it might look like it's in your front yard, but truly it's in the right of way of the street

Speaker 1:

And therefore considered city property, correct the tree as well as the ground. Yeah . And what is that , uh , is that unique to grand junction? That the thing that's going on with the Ash trees and what kind of pests ?

Speaker 2:

So there's, there's two native bugs. It's Ash bark beetle and lilac Ash borer are the two that are causing the problem here. But the, the root , the strange twist to this is there's this really, really, really bad Ash pest called Emerald dashboard that I've been watching since the early two thousands moved from Michigan and just spread across the country in 2013, it hit Boulder. And since then it's been kind of jumping cities. It's in Fort Collins, it's in long lawn , it's kind of spreading and on a one to 10 scale of insects, 10 being a really bad that's a 10. Um, so these native bugs are already causing all kinds of problems. We have fear of that bug getting transported over from just somebody's vehicle or somebody's firewood. So this treatment program is really good because you can protect trees , um, from all of those pests or a treatment program. But the question becomes, there's a cost benefit there. You know, if it's a really small tree, it might not make sense to treat that it might make more sense to replace it. But if it's a really, really big tree, the cost benefit of treating that for the rest of its useful life is, does make sense.

Speaker 1:

So before we jump back over to Ken to talk more about some parks , um, so you all are evaluating and treating the trees on , uh , public lands and the city lands, but what about those trees that are in need of treatment that are on private lands and how can we stop the spread of the Emerald bore if people aren't treating their private?

Speaker 2:

So this is a really unique , uh, piece. And I think some of the reason what drew me to grand junction , um, our city council, when, when Ken was going to council and talking about some of the things that we were doing, some of our council members brought up the question, what about private trees? What are we going to do for, you know, our residents in grand junction that are struggling with this. And right now , um, Ken and myself and our purchasing department, and with the guidance of council are trying to develop a program where we're trying to help , uh, kind of prop up a treatment program for residents where in the conceptual phase, right now, what we're looking at as a 50 50 cost share, where we're going to try to develop an, a preferred vendor list, get a low bid for a trunk injection type of treatment, where if you're a grand junction resident, you call, they come out, they measure your tree, you pay half city pays half. And , uh , kind of be a way to , um, not only support residents, but trees, whether they're in a front yard, a backyard on a street when it comes to like air quality in the valley, when it comes to storm water , when it comes to aesthetics of neighborhoods that benefits spills over from property lines. So us taking action to protect bigger, more valuable trees through a program like this is really unique. I haven't come across it in really any other cities around here. So it's a , another special thing for residents that , um, I think the city is doing for them

Speaker 1:

Well, and I think grand junction spent so many years not being at the forefront of, or being progressive on so many movements. And I feel that really changing in the valley. It's really nice to hear somebody who hasn't lived here a long time say we've really got a special program here that nobody else is doing. I love hearing that about grand junction. Yeah. Thank you. Um, can you all, you've been really busy with parks expansion and a lot on the community's mind as far as what they want to see in the future. Uh, I want to start with kindred reserve what a great little park that is and how that came to fruition.

Speaker 3:

Indeed. So I , one of my big messages is always that we have so much to be proud of in this community from a parks and rec perspective. And it's early our role to try to bring in additional resources and opportunities for people to get active in recreate. And actually Rob deserves a lot of the credit for kindred reserve in that concept and how that emerged. So that was in the pandemic. We had this huge increase in outdoor recreation, and you definitely saw it here. We opened the river park just right in front of our windows , um, in the pandemic. And my gosh, we saw a tremendous amount of utilization. So we really looked for opportunities to , uh, expand access and in places for people to be , be active outdoors during the pandemic and Kennedy reserve was one such opportunity with the city. Um, basically having that land that was going to be for cheer out of golf course expansion that , um, then basically got brought back into the general fund and was available for public benefit. And so Rob led a , a group of our staff members in doing a lot of in-house trail construction, very passive recreation. So they could access that very unique space. That's very natural, very dense vegetate vegetation with a lot of trees. And it was a

Speaker 1:

Bird, a lot of birds

Speaker 3:

Owl , um, all sorts of uniqueness that you can access just 10 minutes from the city core . Um, and it's available now. So folks can go use it. So new amenities like that, we're really trying to bring on board so we can be on the forefront and be this really progress oriented community. Um, I think that for example, our , our, our city manager, he's very much focused on progress on all the different fronts. All the services that we offer in parks and rec is increasingly I think being recognized as a good investment and a way to continue to better serve the community.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. What are some of your , uh, pet projects that you are really excited about and want to see happen? I mean, and if you can't share that it's okay.

Speaker 3:

So I , I mean, I, I'm a public servant, so we're here to serve the community and we're here to provide the services the community wants to see. So one of the things that I got really involved in when I first got here was our parks and rec and open space master plan. And that's where we really learn what the community wanted.

Speaker 1:

Did you have a lot of response and a lot of participation from the community on that ?

Speaker 3:

We did. We actually did the public process during the pandemic, in our survey response on the statistically valid survey, as well as attendance at public meetings and focus groups was higher than , uh , is typical with processes like that. And we got a tremendous amount of feedback and input that has basically divined defined a project list of improvements of the big price tag numbers , $157 million of additional improvements. A lot of those are stadium. A lot of those are additional parks building new parks, like horizon master plan, where for example, tonight doing our , uh, public process meeting at fire station six, to talk about the development of that master plan , uh , its implementation of the highest priorities in the magic park, master plan, its community center. It's a lot of renovation of older parks that are in need of activation , uh, additional amenities to provide more energy, more excitement, more utilization like Columbine Emerson, some of these older parks that really needs to be reactivated. So the master plan is a full look at our entire system and establishes priorities over the next eight to 10 years for us to work towards.

Speaker 1:

And I know the community center has been a subject of a lot of discussion in the community and lots of people for it, but it's been a hard, hard road trying to get it built and passed . Where does that stand right now?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So I want to say that , um, that's not atypical. A lot of communities really grapple with how to, how to best fulfill that need. And there have been several proposals over the past couple of decades that haven't ultimately been successful. Um, there is renewed interest in the project and the opportunity on the part of city council. We actually have a , uh , discussion at our city council workshop on Monday where the city council has given direction to study the issue, the opportunity further, we're going to be doing a statistically valid survey, but with some new methodology and asking questions kind of more precise and more precisely than we've asked before. And so folks can expect if they're randomly selected is asked to be a random selection of grand junction city, grand junction voters. Um, if they are randomly selected, they have an opportunity to weigh in and really give direction to the city council on what to, what to do on that.

Speaker 1:

Okay, great.

Speaker 3:

And that

Speaker 1:

Will happen in January, in January, probably

Speaker 3:

January timeline in terms of the surveys coming forth, it's going to be a phone survey where we actually are going to be sending postcards, letting people know that have been randomly selected. We're working with a collar missing university. They're the they're going to be facilitating it. There's several professors that are doing some pro bono work , um, to facilitate that, that survey. And it , it should be a really great opportunity to, to understand best how to fulfill that.

Speaker 1:

Great. And so you people that are watching and listening, if you get the postcard, answer the phone call and participate in the survey. And a lot of people just won't answer a phone call in the evening or anytime if they think it's not going to be a solicitation or someone they don't know

Speaker 3:

Indeed. Yeah. Thank you for that. And the more that we can get that out there, the better we are going to be calling from a 9, 7 0 area code. We're going to be sending out postcards saying, you're going to receive a phone call during this timeframe. Please answer it. Or you can go online and complete the survey right now and avoid the phone call.

Speaker 1:

Perfect. Thank you. Um, Rob , talk a little bit about , um, what, what else homeowners can do? What else do you want homeowners and property owners to know about their trees and what they can do to keep things healthy?

Speaker 2:

So I think one thing that I'd really like to try to get out to folks within the real estate world, you have a lot of new people coming in. Sometimes you have people coming from the east coast or from the Pacific Northwest where they're, you know, blessed with water that falls from the sky from the sky and they don't have to worry about it. And there's also some misconceptions here that all these old trees tap, you know, they have these big, deep taproots that go down into the river. And none of that is true. The , the reality here is we're shaping trees in a city to make it a nicer place to live, but we're also trying to alter a natural environment to have that happen. So sometimes you'll run into a challenge of, well, should we even have trees? We live in the desert, but trees are part of it . What makes cities beautiful? They're part of a green infrastructure and you have to look at it more from a utilitarian standpoint versus creating nature. Um , I look at them like a street light , a stop sign, a sidewalk, none of those things exist in the desert either, but they sure make it a nicer place to live when they're there. So , um, what would I want residents to know? Uh , the , the main thing is there's, there's always balanced needed in , in cities and you're trying to balance in this case, water conservation and, and healthy tree canopy. And in our biggest, most valuable trees are gonna be the oldest ones. And those are the ones that I , I really struggle when I see a landscape that's converted away from water to just no water, and then watch these trees slowly spiral over time down. And then we ended up coming out and having to remove them. Um, so I would just caution folks on just always be thoughtful of , of converting, how you're watering your yard and , and checking with arborist. The, the city does anybody that does tree work in the city has to have a license. And if somebody's out there and they're, they're struggling with, well, what should I do? You can, you can check in with the city. And if you want more information on especially rights trees within the right of way of a street, or you can go to the city's webpage, you can just search grand junction forestry, and it'll take you to our webpage and you can see all of our licensed contractors. Um, but that's really what I want to try to promote here is , is an understanding of trees are more than just a pretty thing on street. They it's, it's air quality, it's carbon sequestration, it's mental health, it's an and

Speaker 1:

Shade from the hot sun to , I mean, I know at one well-placed streak and let you enjoy your west facing back patio.

Speaker 2:

And that , I think the thing that surprised me the most, we did a Metro Denver canopy assessment of all the trees from Boulder to Brighton from Aurora down to Littleton. And the biggest benefit that the us forest service found in that study was that the trees were providing was increases in property value. And so if you look at some of these streets and you drive down on me , and then I've seen those, a similar street lost where they lose all the trees from an insect. And if you look at it before and after, and you ask somebody, would you want to live on this street? Would you want to live on this street? And they're like, yes, no, but it's the same street. And so I don't think people always really recognize that when you drive through community, like if you drive down main street, the impact that those trees have on , on your kind of this internal , uh, evaluation of what is this place, you kind of have a mindset that you don't even realize is being impacted by the canopy of trees and healthy trees around you. So property values a big one too.

Speaker 1:

So we do see some conversion to a Zurich landscape, a drier landscape, but you want people to know that they still have to pay attention to the amount of water that the trees are getting. And I heard what you said, just because a tree is big and old doesn't mean that it doesn't still need water.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . It's a lot of times older trees are a lot like us as older people, the older you get, the less resilient you are to change. So major changes for older trees is really hard. Um, I think as you expand new neighborhoods, you can grow really nice trees that are really low water. You can develop an extremely Zurich landscape, but in the older core part of town with our oldest trees that are providing the biggest benefits , uh , environmentally, that's where we got to just be thoughtful and cautious about just going from this tree has always been watered in a highly irrigated landscape. And now we're going to go all rock with zero water. You're going to your trees will spiral and go down.

Speaker 1:

And whether you live in the city limits or not , um , contacting a certified arborist to evaluate your trees is always a good idea. Give you a watering plan and tell you what they need.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And if you're hiring somebody to prune or remove logging last year was an kind of arboriculture falls into logging. That was the number one most dangerous job out there. And so just randomly picking somebody that doesn't know what they're doing to do that work. You gotta be, you have risk of it falling back on your homeowners insurance. Somebody comes out, drops a tree on your house or worse. They hurt themselves and they don't have insurance. And now they're suing your homeowner's insurance for their health bills. So just be cautious and think of an arborist like you, wouldn't electrician. You wouldn't just hire somebody to come out and wire your house. It's , it's a dangerous profession, seek out professionals. That's always in your best interest. And

Speaker 1:

I think it , it can be considered expensive by some people to have a tree removed. I mean, it's, it's definitely , um , costly. And we deal with that in real estate all the time. You know, when you're showing a house to a prospective buyer, you're looking at the health of the trees because there's going to be a cost associated to either the seller or the buyer to if it needs to be removed or treated. Um, but yes, I mean, having somebody that doesn't know what they're doing can have disastrous effects in a lot of ways, important to call a professional. Um, can , um, let's, can we circle back to match it park a little bit and talk about , uh, the latest conversations there. I know that , um, I've heard conversations about , um, uh , cycling park and all kinds of potential projects there. And where is that on the list of priorities and how is it going to get funded?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, great question. So it is a priority in the, in the $157 million price tag on the pros master plan. And the focus really there is the , the middle , uh, central phase of development, which is the multi-purpose fields. We've seen such a huge burden placed on canyon view being at capacity. And it's such an interesting cause I hear all about the development of canyon view and how people said, oh , no, one's ever going to go out all the way over there. And now we have five, 6,000 people there every weekend in the spring and in the fall. And so I think it's a similar sort of thing with matchup park where it kind of is a safety valve to relieve some of the pressure on canyon view by focusing on the middle field development. Um, so we've had a lot of discussions about, about that as a priority. We also , uh, as recently as last week, we're talking about the Eastern side, which is more , more natural and has a lot of opportunity for some more trail development in bike , uh , amenities and trail connection. Um, so we're , we talk about matching on a pretty regular basis.

Speaker 1:

Um, and how many acres is that 207 acres? Isn't that amazing that we have that amount of acreage just bordering the city so close in?

Speaker 3:

It is absolutely phenomenal. I mean, on this side of the community, on the west south side, you know, we've got lunch loop and amazing trail system over this side, kind of feel like mashes kind of that bookend for that Eastern Northern side. Um, for comparison steak , uh , can use 110 acres. So it's almost double the size of canyon view . So give people idea of the possibility there and which isn't ,

Speaker 1:

I'm sorry, but I bet you just do this don't you like big, flat, open wide needs trees.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I , I know the park rec open space master plan. One of the big feedbacks we heard was trails, and I think doing something as simple as kindred reserve and just every time I'm out there and I run into people just seeing how much they're enjoying it. And it's a really simple thing to do. I think, a match. It has a lot of potential for even that aspect of just trail use biking, kind of just appreciating how the , the natural beauty out there. There's some really pretty views and just a really cool natural landscape out there too .

Speaker 3:

So to your other question on funding, because it all comes down to the dollars. I mean, we would have as many amenities as possible if money were no object. So it is great to be able to get some additional resources. One of the things that we learned in the master plan process was how the community wants us to fund all these great new improvements that they were wanting to see in their parks and recreation system. The top of most preferred mechanism that folks said in the statistically valid survey was revenue from, from cannabis. And that was 79% of the community , um, from the statistically valid survey that said that they wanted us to consider that as a funding source followed by , um, grants and fundraising also very high at 79% and then 71% was a tax on , uh, nicotine products. Um, so , um , kind of at the same time as that was, that conversation was happening. We were hearing additional feedback from the community on considering potential legalization of cannabis. And so the two kind of merged and that got written to the ballot language, the lion's share of revenue from cannabis sales and cultivation will come to help us implement the priority in the pros plan. Great . So 2022, we do expect to start receiving some of that revenue. Um, and we do have a couple of big projects that are tied directly to cannabis revenue that probably wouldn't be possible otherwise.

Speaker 1:

And GOCO provides a lot of funding for parks, but it's mainly smaller things like th they, they funded the study, right? The master plan study.

Speaker 3:

Yes. Yeah. That was a GOCO grant. We also got to go through grant for the river park for a lot of the river trail. A lot of the projects in the community have had a tie to a GOCO grant, but those are, those are hard to obtain. The funding rate is between 20 to 50% depending on the cycle. Um, so it's pretty competitive to get a GOCO grant, to be able to help you build parks and rec , uh , facility .

Speaker 1:

These, everybody in the state wants some of that all the time, right? Every community is applying.

Speaker 3:

And that's kind of, one of my biggest jobs is to focus on how to bring those resources here and , and to emphasize and demonstrate that that investment will be well-made. Uh, for 2022, for example, we are going to be pursuing a Goku grant for that phase two , the monument connect trail, working with the Colorado west land trust . That would take us from , uh, the lunch loop trail, head up to south camp and complete the 13 mile Redlands loop, a hard surface trail, including the river trail. That would just be absolutely phenomenal, a final chapter in , in that loop. So we're going to be going after a GOCO grant there, but we're also going to be devoting some money from the cabinet cannabis revenue to that project, which helps our competitiveness because we don't have to ask for as much from GOCO.

Speaker 1:

Great. And can you talk a little bit about the riverfront down here at Las colonias and what are the next steps here? Love the dog park, like the skate park , uh, the amphitheater,

Speaker 3:

I mean, I think when it went in, nobody could have guessed how great it would be. I think everybody that goes there for the first time thinks, oh my gosh, I can't believe we have this here. I mean, it's really fantastic, indeed. Yeah. I think, you know, working with a number of different partners over the past several decades, we've been able to see a lot of progress with the riverfront revitalization. And I think that's just going to continue to build off of itself. I mean, we had crews out here , uh , very recently , uh, working on the, the area right next to the festival area, doing some improvements, landscaping improvements in there. Uh, we were able to open up all three sections of the dog park , uh, this summer , uh , to great reception , um, to very high utilization throughout the day. Uh, the amphitheater is booming. I think this year was the busiest year that the amphitheater has seen , um, in the, I think that we had, we had several shows that were near sold out . Um, and we got, we go to council next week on the zip line , uh , working with bond side to bring in the zip line , which will be an absolutely wonderful view from right here, since I'm looking at the launch spot and the , the landing spot is about , um, you know, a hundred feet in front of me. Um, so that , that your, your views of this area from the bonsai building are going to be improved with that additional amenity, but that along with the river park, that's been so embraced by the community. Um, it's just really exciting to everything happened here at Las colonias and then , uh , farther down the road and he got to us Rios . That's also progressing very rapidly. Um, and

Speaker 1:

Well , you know, we're all big Jen Taylor fans here and there's Jen's project and the, and the other one and yeah , we just can't wait. I mean, it's, I think we're all going to have bicycles here so that we can ride down and enjoy the Cantina and everything that that section is going to have to offer. And then we have the Eddie over here, which is exciting, seeing that going on. I mean, it's busy down ,

Speaker 3:

There's a lot happening. That's so great that the community is really embracing its namesake and, and having all this additional attention to energy , uh , revitalization that's happening. It's really going to increasingly be a place to be. Um, with those risks , we already have the bike playground on board. We got a restaurant facilities , shelter we're gonna be,

Speaker 1:

And it looked great once with the landscaping that went in. I have to say it was a huge change you could see.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, couldn't be more dramatic, 8,500 junk cars to this beautiful, amazing , um, epicenter of the community. Um, we are working on , uh , actually I just finished a meeting about an hour ago on a playground, a destination playground. That'd be visible from Riverside Parkway in the same way. The bike playground is as well as from the river , um, to go on their dos Rios as well as a splash park that will really compliment the river park. You know, the river park is such an amazing amenity in the utilization is just off the charts. Um, but we also need something to compliment it for non-swimmers younger kids and that splash park done . It does us . We'll we'll really be able to do that and that that's coming, you know, middle of the next year. So progress is continuing.

Speaker 1:

I tell a lot of people when they ask about the real estate market and what's going to happen here. You know, I said, my crystal ball's kind of broken, but I know there's a lot of people that want to live here. And I personally feel like this community is going to be so much larger in 20 years than it is right now. I mean, with all the things that are going in, it's just going to make more people want to move here. Um, speaking of river parks, how about a whitewater park? Is that anywhere on the list of priorities?

Speaker 3:

Yeah , that's in the pros and master plan to get the Redlands Taylor race , um, what , what our parks. So one of the things that amazed me about our river park here, because this was developed kind of right when I arrived in kudos to all the vision from Bonzai, from all the different players that came together, DOE huge GOCO grant , um, you know, a lot of amazing effort that made that happen. So the , the virtue of that really seems to be accessible for, for every different level. You know, so many other whitewater parks around Colorado tend to be catered towards the more higher end kayak kayaker. And it's really great to see so much interaction and engagement of the river here, the river park at Las colonias, but we still need that higher end more , uh, in, in , um, traditional whitewater park. So there was a , um, a concept master plan that was done site master plan by river restoration back in 2012 to build a five drop while whitewater park at Redlands tail race on the Redlands power canal. And we have that in the budget for design in 2023, and we'll likely pursue a GOCO grant , uh, shortly thereafter to make that project happen. One of the things that happens with whitewater parks is there's some nervousness on the part of CPW because of impact on fish habitat, but being on a canal that CPW and also be connected, connected lights and able to further increase that, that, that, that , uh , amenity and that resource. And , um, they're in support of it. So I think that helps with our chances with GOCO and making a whitewater park happen over there. So that's on the radar as well.

Speaker 1:

I'm sorry, I haven't read through the entire master.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

Break it down for us kid . Well, Rob , um , what else haven't I asked him, what would you like to share with our listeners and viewers about , uh, your role in grand junction or , uh , what they can do to help beautify and protect our community?

Speaker 2:

I think one piece that just touch on really quick is diversity. So if you are coming this spring and you're looking to go to the nursery and you're looking to buy trees, if you're going to buy three, make them all different. Um, you just never know what the next insect, the next disease going to be. So just diversity's really important. Um, I'm , I'm hoping that in this treatment program that I was talking about a little bit earlier, that we will have , uh , an option for maybe some, some planting rebates for folks that have an ashtray that doesn't make the cut for treatment. So hoping to support some of that to get additional trees planted on, on private property as well. Um, as far as reaching out to residents, the biggest thing that I would say is I would love to get more connected into, you know , some information that could get out into the real estate market when those sales are exchanged so that a new property owner would have maybe something in their, their welcome basket that would be, Hey, here's a little bit about trees in Colorado and, you know, yes, they're, you know, they're fragile because this is something that people have created. And if you look back in the 18 hundreds of what the grand valley looked like, it sure didn't look like it does now. And I think what we're all doing here is we're Colorado ones are really attached to nature and they're really attached to being outdoors. And that's, that was a draw for me here. And this grand junction is just surrounded by so much opportunity. And, you know, sitting here listening to Ken, which Ken and I worked together, and it's like, you know, hearing new things and getting excited about even more , um, whether it's trees, whether it's , uh , you know, the river, whether it's just walking the parks or riding your bike. It's, I think it's just a great place to live. And you , you talk about the crystal ball being broken, but I, I, I kind of think he probably can see more in your crystal ball than you're letting on and your podcast here, but , uh, I think, I think it's going to be a great place to live. Um, and I think trees make a huge difference and, you know, Ken's got his park system, but his, his fingers of , of the green infrastructure in the city, they extend down every street. Um, and in some aspects they touch private property and , and, and all of those things make it a nicer city to live in. And that's really what we're here to do is try to come up with ways to make that for people wonder ,

Speaker 1:

Um, how about after the podcast, we set up an appointment and work on a document that we can give to new home buyers in our community. I would love to do that . Yeah, I would too. I think that'd be a great thing. Ken, what would you like to share that you haven't already talked about this evening?

Speaker 3:

That's a tough act to follow Robin , really encapsulated things. Well, which is good. You know, it's good to have colleagues that challenge you and help you do your best. Um, you know, I think , uh, it's really wonderful to be in this community. That's , that's embracing it's parks and rec. It's such a privilege to be able to provide the services that we provide and to see the enthusiasm for, for not only celebrating what we have and making what we have better and best it can be, but also adding in additional, additional opportunities for, for the community to come together and healthy and positive ways. You know, we're, we're in parks and rec are all about quality of life. We're all about building community. And , uh, it's just as really just a wonderful privilege to be able to, to work for the people and, and, and to help make the community the best it can. Cause there's, I mean, one of the things that just struck me about grand junction coming here is there's such , um, there is such enthusiasm for the future, and it's really great to be a part of a place that is so optimistic even through the pandemic, you know, and staying connected with colleagues on the front range and family and friends elsewhere in the state. Um, having that sense of optimism through the pandemic, I think was pretty unique. And she said a lot about the , the character in grand grand junction. So it's just, I'm just real happy to be a part of it.

Speaker 1:

Well, I want to thank you both for being , um, such good stewards of our community, of our green spaces, our open spaces, and , um, keep up the good work and we have a beautiful place and you all are a big part of that.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Thank you for having us.

Speaker 1:

Is there, are there any volunteer opportunities for people or, or , uh, if they want to get involved some way with volunteer or just get in touch with you, what's the best way to reach out to both of you?

Speaker 3:

Yeah , so I , I think , um, we have a ton of different volunteer opportunities. Like I'm thinking about , um, a lot of our youth sports are coached by volunteers. So youth basketball is very reliant on , uh , volunteers. We have our trail host program where we do a trail ambassadors on the riverfront trail. Um, we have all sorts of opportunities for cleanup. I know Rob and Kyle [inaudible] , our facility supervisor works a lot with different volunteer groups that do cleanups , um, Rocky mounts. I'm looking at Las colonias pond , worked with us , uh , not too long ago on a big cleanup . So , um, the best way to get ahold of us is our website, GJ city.org. Um, our direct line is 2 5, 4, 3 8 6 6. And any, any interest, any ideas, any desire to be involved, please reach out to you, we'll find a place for you to contribute to your community if you're interested. So

Speaker 1:

Anything to add on that?

Speaker 2:

Um , no, I think, I think Ken pretty much hit it. I, you know, we don't have within forestry and open space , you don't have a dedicated volunteer person necessarily, but what I've found that's worked is like groups that come out and say, this is kind of, I want to help. I want to do something and we can kind of steer people into projects. Um, you know, keeping it fairly simple, but even as far as just cleaning up a section of trail , um, the, we had a group called the cycle effect. Uh, this last weekend that came out, which is a non-profit that tries to inspire young young ladies to start more biking. And they, I walked, I don't know if you've ever noticed on the riverfront trail, there's these little single track kind of spurs that cut off. And they went through one of our singles single-track sections called hustle and flow, and they did a great job cleaning it up over a weekend and I'll take the help if they're willing to give it.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely great, plenty of opportunities for people to jump in and help beautify our community. Absolutely . Right. Thank you to Ken Charbonneau and Rob Davis, city of grand junction, parks, and rec and forestry department. Um, look them up, send them a message, let them know that they're doing a great job and get out there and volunteer. This is Kristie Reese signing off. We'll see you next time on the full circle podcast. Thanks. Thanks for listening. This is Kristie Reese signing out from the full circle podcast .