Alamosa asks ASU for levee property

ALAMOSA — A little bit of land could go a long way towards river levee work and trails, Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks told Adams State University trustees on Friday when she asked them to consider giving just under two acres to the city.

Brooks said she brought the subject up to new ASU President Dr. Cheryl Lovell when they first met, and Lovell suggested Brooks bring the request to the board.

The trustees did not act on the request this month but took it under advisement.

Brooks said this is a joint city/ASU project dating back to a grant application from about five years ago in which the two entities sought funding from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) for a pedestrian bridge and trails on the city ranch property that would benefit the community at large and ASU athletes in training.

That grant application was not successful, Brooks added, but the concept is still viable.

She said the city is requesting 1.8 acres owned by the university along the river levee behind the ASU baseball fields. The city already has a maintenance easement on the property but would like to own the property outright to facilitate future levee work as well as public trails access, Brooks explained.

She said the levee would not change but might be enhanced for trails and a pedestrian bridge.

She asked the university to give the property to the city or sell it for a very nominal fee like $10.

Owning the property would make it easier for the city to complete levee improvements and might encourage other property owners along the levee to consider similar action so the city could develop a more continuous trail system along the levee.

Brooks explained that the city only has maintenance easements all along the river levee, and some property owners have fenced off their portions of the levee, so the access to the public is a bit jagged. She said the public uses the levee as a trail system.

She explained that the city could be facing significant levee work in the future since the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Army Corps of Engineers have changed levee design criteria since the original levee was constructed, and the Alamosa levee is up for re-certification. At the very least the city would probably need a new or adjusted easement with ASU and other landowners along the levee in the future. It would be easier for the city to complete the work if it owned the levee outright, she explained.

She did not know offhand how property owners there are long the river levee and said there would be some who would never want to grant full access to their property.

There are multiple efforts to develop a broader trail system, Brooks added. For example, Revitalize the Rio is working on a trail system that would go from property recently purchased from Regas Chefas northwest of Alamosa all the way to the Alamosa wildlife refuge.

Brooks added that a public trails system was ranked number one in priorities by the community during a recent comprehensive planning process.

ASU Trustee Wendell Pryor said he would support a partnership with the city. “Trails are important to connect people to the outdoors,” he said. Trails are an important economic development tool in Chafee County where he works, he added.

ASU Trustee Randy Wright agreed. He said he would definitely support this effort. He added that while the earlier GOCO grant may not have been successful there have been some since that time that have supported local outdoors/trails activities. Wright said this effort would also tie into ASU Coach Damon Martin’s cross-country training for his athletes.

“I think this is very good for the university and for economic development,” Wright said.

ASU Trustee Chairman Cleave Simpson said the board would likely need to consult its attorney because according to the Alamosa County web site part of the property the city is requesting is owned by Adams State College (before it became a university) and part by the State of Colorado on behalf of Adams State.