Water Smart shares ideas for city improvements


ALAMOSA — Changes to city parks, gateways and municipal building landscaping can improve Alamosa’s appearances but still be “water smart.”

In a work session on Wednesday, Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks and City Planning Specialist Daniel Vaughn (who also has a master’s degree in landscape architecture) presented recommendations from the Water Smart team.

To implement all of the recommendations would cost $436,259 in materials and equipment, and that does not count labor costs, but the city could start chipping away at the improvements with $30,000 currently in the budget. Brooks reminded the council that the city had budgeted $15,000 for such efforts last year but did not spend it, and this year’s budget also has $15,000 in it, so there is $30,000 available this year for these types of projects.

Brooks said the Water Smart team has been meeting for a couple of years or more and has developed a list of recommendations that would conserve water throughout the city and improve gateway aesthetics. The recommendations primarily deal with city-owned property like city parks, the cemetery and areas around city hall and the rec center.

She said the improvements are recommended to beautify the city, but that does not necessarily mean the landscaping improvements have to involve grass. Efforts can be attractive and use less water at the same time, she said.

“We don’t want it to be ugly,” she said.

The council talked about whether the city crews could provide the labor for these projects. City Parks/Recreation Director Andy Rice said the city crews could probably work in some of the projects but not the entire list. Vaughn agreed there were probably some projects the city could do in house.

Some of the Water Smart recommendations include:

  • At city hall, expand xeric garden along parking lot and train pavilion, modify existing demonstration garden as an educational opportunity, estimated $34,755
  • In Cole Park, add 500-seat concrete amphitheater (estimated range $400,000-600,000), with other improvements such as planting more trees, total estimate $506,925
  • By the airport gateway, plant 43 trees and add gateway welcome sign, total estimate $16,820 (however, about 20 trees are being planted near the airport on the May 4 arbor day event, thanks to a grant from Xcel, so nearly half of that project will be completed)
  • At Boyd Park, repurpose existing courts for dual purpose to incorporate pickle ball, plant about seven trees, replace unused grassy areas with crusher fines, shrubs and plants, total estimate $18,489 for the northeast portion of the park and $1,601 for the southwestern part
  • In Carroll Park, expand parking lot, adding 58 spots to the tennis court parking lot, 20 spots by the water tower and 48 spots off Carroll Avenue, potential skate park or pump track, new playground equipment, total estimate $231,031
  • At Diamond Park, add picnic shelter and pickle ball courts, total estimate $23,465
  • In Jardin Hermosa Park (Tremont Ave.), add 16 trees, other modest improvements, total estimate $5,671
  • At Olympian Park (by the bowling alley), revamp the planted area incorporating more boulders and crusher fines, replace fence with split rail, total estimate $13,421
  • By the city recreation center, replace some of the sod with crusher fines, boulders and shrubs, expand parking lot, total estimate $64,774
  • At the south gateway (on Hwy 285 where Ef’s restaurant is now located), clean up the island, plant trees, place gateway welcome sign, total estimate $4,665
  • At Sunset Park, add gates, boulders, trees, total estimate $4,068
  • At the west gateway (by Walmart), landscape including boulders and trees, total estimate $5,125
  • In Zapata Park, minimal improvements since this park recently added a new playground, and neighbor Don Thompson has supplied trees, total estimate $700
  • In the area by Richardson Avenue and Highway 160, add monument sign, other improvements, total estimate $17,316

The council has not yet decided which projects it will tackle first to use the $30,000 in the budget. Brooks said the council could look at those that would conserve water the most or the cheapest projects first or similar segments like landscaping or signage, “whatever you want to do.”

She added that each year the city would budget more towards these projects, “and we will chip away at it.”

Vigil said, “I think we should use the whole $30,000 now. I think we should get as much done as we can in that $30,000, as many projects as we can.”

Knocking the Zapata Park project off the list would only take a few hundred dollars, for example, he said. Broyles said it might make sense to knock off the smallest projects first.

Vigil said he especially wanted to see Alamosa’s entrances more appealing to visitors.

Mayor Coleman asked if any of these projects would qualify for grant funding and suggested the city should try to find some outside funding. Brooks said the city regularly applies for Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) mini grants, for example for $8,000, and the city could do that.

During the city’s next meeting the council is expected to discuss this more and perhaps vote on this year’s priorities for the $30,000 in the budget.