WALSENBURG — The City of Walsenburg and Walsenburg Downtown Revitalization Committee (WDRC), through a collaborative partnership, have received notification from the Gates Family Foundation and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) that funding requests for the construction of Miners Plaza have been approved.
The DOLA grant opportunity is through the Energy and Mineral Assistance fund, which is derived from oil, gas, carbon dioxide, coal and metals extracted in Colorado. The Miners Plaza project was reviewed based on a variety of factors such as its connection to energy impact, degree of need, measureable outcomes, amount of request, relationship to community goals, level of local match, community support, management capacity and readiness to go. The grant award is in the amount of $174,000.
Gates Family Foundation has a rich tradition of providing support for capital projects,and chose to invest in Miners Plaza because it represents an opportunity in community development and revitalization. The park presents the potential to reinforce and enhance economic vitality of the community and incorporates partnerships developed between private and public sector organizations working to improve the community’s economic and cultural health. Funding from the Gates Foundation was in the amount of $40,000.
Huerfano Parks and Recreation District has also committed $20,000 toward construction but posed the stipulation that the project had to be substantially funded before district funds would be available. The funds committed from both Gates and DOLA will be used to meet this requirement.
The Plaza concept was originally presented as an opportunity to improve downtown during an assessment conducted by Downtown Colorado, Inc. in the fall of 2012. WDRC set about raising funds to purchase the vacant lot at the corner of 6th and Main. A grant from LiveWell Huerfano County and matching funds from the organization completed that transaction in December of 2013.
Development of a partnership between Walsenburg and WDRC has resulted in the ownership of the lot transferred to the city with the understanding construction and maintenance of the new park will be a joint venture between both organizations. A technical assistance grant, funded through DOLA and WDRC, enabled graduate students from the University of Colorado Denver to design the park with input and vision of the community. As a result of that public input, the mining theme and name of Miners Plaza was selected and ultimately adopted by Walsenburg City Council.
There will be opportunities for additional community input in the coming months. WDRC will schedule a workday to remove existing structures and prepare the site for construction. Community members will be invited to assist, and the date will be announced.
A fundraising campaign will take on a renewed level of enthusiasm with a flyer appearing in city utility bills in June. The flyer outlines how individuals, families, and businesses can be memorialized or recognized with the purchase of a commemorative brick or other park amenities.
An artists’ rendering of the proposed Miners Plaza.