December 11, 2009

McGraw Memorial Park in Bailey gets GOCO grant
About $150,000 awarded for improvements to downtown-Bailey park

By Mike Potter
Staff Writer

Transforming the Park - MsGraw Memorial Park in downtown Bailey will get a number of improvements this summer with the help of the Great Outdoors Colorado grant of close to $150,000. (Photo by Mike Potter/The Flume)

McGraw Memorial Park in downtown Bailey will receive $149,764 in grant money from Great Outdoors Colorado to fund improvements to the park.

The Park County Historical Society partnered with Destination Bailey and Park County government to apply for the grant last fall. An announcement on GOCO's Web site showed that Park County will receive the grant.

Park County government officially submitted the grant application because GOCO requires that grant applications come from municipalities.

GOCO is funded through revenue generated from the Colorado State Lottery.

Park County's Board of County Commissioners approved entering into an agreement with the Park County Historical Society on Aug. 27 for the historical society to manage the grant.

The application for the almost-$150,000 grant requires a 10 percent cash match along with in-kind contributions.

According to a press release issued from the Park County Office of Tourism and Community Development, the grant money would pay for improvements to the park for use by tourists and residents.

Improvements that are planned include installing public restrooms, upgrading existing facilities and adding new features, such as a fishing dock and more picnic tables, according to the release.

"This, in turn will increase the appeal of Bailey as a vacation destination," it said.

Gary Nichols, director of the Office of Tourism and Community Development, said he felt confident about the county's chance at getting the GOCO grant for the park from the outset.

Although the grant has been awarded, the money hasn't been released yet. He said it would be once a contract is signed between Park County and GOCO.

"Typically those 'things take a couple of months to get under contract," he said. "We will have an authorization to spend funds within a month or two."

He was confident that the funding would be in place by the time work is set to begin at the park.

"I don't think we're going to break ground tomorrow, but by the time we're ready to go, the money will be in place," he said.

While the grant is not as big as the $2.14 million grant recently awarded for the Tarryall Creek Ranch Nichols thinks the meaning of it is as significant as the bigger grant, if not more so.

He has been trying to identify a project that the community could rally around, something that everybody could support, and he feels McGraw Memorial Park is just that project. He sees this project as a stepping stone that could have far-reaching effects down the line.

Nichols said the partnership between Park County and the Park County Historical Society is important to the life of the project.

"As owners of the property, the Park County Historical Society has been developing plans to enhance McGraw Park for several years," he. said. "Their continued involvement is critical to the success of this project."

The Park County Historical Society agreement will call for the Historical Society to provide project oversight and account for the expenditure of grant funds and in-kind donations, according to the press release.

Nichols also recognized other entities that will contribute to the project.

The Platte Canyon Area Chamber of Commerce, Park County Tourism and Community Development Office, owners of Rustic Square LLC, and the Intermountain Rural Electric Association have all donated to the project, he said.

Other businesses and residents have donated money as well, contributing $1,875.

In addition to cash, Destination Bailey has provided many in-kind contributions to the project, including research and grant application preparation.

Susan Lambert, president of Destination Bailey, said she was glad to learn that the grant had been approved for McGraw Park.

"I think it's a great thing," she said. "I think it's going to be great to get so many different groups together for one common goal."

She also praised the Park County Historical Society in the work it had done with the park.

"I think it's terrific," she said.

Art Hall, president of the Park County Historical Society, said the first work that would be done to the park that is related to the GOCO grant would be the installation of an informational kiosk outlining the history of the park.

That was set to be installed sometime this year, but could be delayed until next spring.

Like Nichols, Hall was confident. that the GOCO money would be awarded.

"From the very beginning, I felt that we were going to receive it," he said.

— Debra Orechio contributed to this article