Commissioners cut funding

By: Ian Margol Email
By: Ian Margol Email

MESA COUNTY, Colo. Over more than two decades it's become a widely used, and widely cherished recreation destination here on the Western Slope, but due to budget restrictions, money going toward the Riverfront Trail Project may begin to taper off.

The commotion began on Facebook, news that the Mesa County Commissioners have decided to cut $17,000 in funding from the riverfront trail.

But the vote to do so wasn't unanimous, and there are several members of the community who aren't happy about it either.

"The Riverfront Foundation has been working on the Riverfront Project for 25 years and part of that process has relied on the support of Mesa County," says Urban Trails Committee member, Dave Grossman. "It's brought in millions and millions of dollars into this community to build this project."

The money used to go towards the salary of a part-time employee who serves the project, but as commissioners continue to struggle with balancing the budget, they've had to take a closer look as to what is and what is not a necessity.

Commissioner Rose Pugliese says when she asks about the position's purpose, the answers have been less than direct. She's heard everything from organizing volunteers to putting together a concert series for the trail.

"When I'm cutting the Sheriff and the DA, I cannot justify spending 17,000 on a position, a part-time position for that kind of money to organize concerts," says Pugliese.

Still, Grossman says man in the community are disappointed with the decision.

"Almost universally the response has been aghast, they're concerned that the county commissioners don't understand the true value of the Riverfront trail system and urge the county commissioners to re-consider," he says.

Pugliese says she is open to re-considering during next weeks appeal,"I really just need someone to articulate what the value is for the tax payers," she says. "When I get out in the community and people ask me what their money's going towards, I need to be able to articulate it... and right now I can't do that."

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