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$49,000 grant secured for Evergreen Trails Master Plan

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By Stephanie DeCamp

The Evergreen Trails Master Plan project took an important step recently when it received a $49,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.

The plan envisions a trail network running from the high school to Wulf Rec Center to the Evergreen Library, and then through downtown along Bear Creek.

Taxpayers, for their part, will pay nothing, said Jake Houston, the local government programs coordinator for GOCO. The Downtown Evergreen Economic District's Legacy Fund, which comes from a voluntary 1 percent donation added to purchases at participating merchants, will contribute $10,000. DEED president Dean Dalvit's architectural firm, EVStudio, is giving a combined $10,800 in cash and in-kind donations, and the Evergreen Park and Recreation District board voted unanimously to contribute $3,800. Other partnering agencies include Jefferson County Transportation and Engineering, Jeffco Open Space and Denver Mountain Parks. Other partners, Dalvit said, will likely be added as needed.

These funds will be spent solely on development of the master plan, EPRD Executive Director Scott Robson said.

Rachel Emmer, DEED treasurer, was a major player in landing the grant, Dalvit said, and continues to be in the planning process.

"The grant is very exciting," Emmer said. "I'm very excited to charge forward and get the planning done. Based on the feedback and thoughts (on an earlier failed grant application), we went back to the drawing board and dug into the details, and were successful with this one.”

The agencies met Dec. 13 to draft a schedule for completion of goals, Robson said. Construction is planned to begin in 2015. Another GOCO grant will be needed to complete the trails; a final cost estimate is still to come.

“The next meeting is open to the public,” Emmer said, “though we haven't set a date for it yet. Community engagement is critically important to the success of the project and its implementation in design. That deep community collaboration is what we need for the master plan.”

The agenda for the January meeting will be to review the scope of the work to be done, identify which consultants to interview, and possibly begin the interview process, she said.

Nine different versions of the project have been developed by six different entities over 16 years, she said.

"We all knew we wanted this long ago,” Dalvit said, “but now the process will get into how to do it, how much it will cost, and what the design will look like.”

The planning process will include extensive public involvement, meetings with private landowners, a feasibility study, mapping and other elements, a news release from GOCO said.

The Jeffco Transportation and Engineering Department applied for the grant in August, Robson said, after applying and being denied last year.

"Ultimately, I think this is a huge step," Robson said. "And not only in improving safety, particularly for young people‚but I think it will be a significant economic boon (for downtown), which is in desperate need of this kind of amenity."