Mesa County Commissioners brought the Palisade Plunge one step closer to reality on Monday morning, March 7, agreeing to partner with the Town of Palisade as formally requested by Town Administrator Rich Sales. Also involved is the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) which would do much of the design, building and maintenance of the trail.
The Town will be applying for a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), and the terms of the specific grant available are that the funds are reimbursable. The Town needs someone to fund the beginning stages of the project, allowing initial design and construction costs to be paid out, thereby beginning the reimbursement payment cycle. GOCO grants are very secure, and once approved, payments can be counted on.
At their regular meeting in Grand Junction in the Old Courthouse, the commissioners agreed to front a total of $100,000 for the project with the expressed understanding that it be considered an advance, not a loan.
The commissioners all expressed support for the project, although each had concerns of one kind or another.
It is particularly important to the Town of Palisade that riders have an easy access to downtown Palisade as their ride starts and/or finishes.
Commissioner Rose Pugliese was enthusiastic about the Plunge, but did not favor the use of Rapid Creek Road as the final stage of the bike trail, suggesting a path down Horse Mountain instead. She also volunteered the county’s assistance in planning the route, and pointed out that the trail will benefit for Mesa and Collbran as well.
Private property rights were an area of concern for Commissioner John Justman, who also voted in favor of the project concept. He also wanted to make sure that the entire process remains transparent.
One of the benefits of the trail as proposed so far to commissioners was to help deal with obesity, a provision that Commissioner McInnis would like removed. Since this is almost entirely a downhill trail, it will require plenty of skills and abilities, but probably is not a real treatment for a weight problem. According to McInnis, the Palisade Plunge is “a great concept with broad appeal for economic development and uniqueness.
A number of Palisade citizens and business owners also spoke in favor of the project, including Scott Holzschuh of Colorado National Bank, John Sabal, chair of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce board, Rondo Beucheler of Rapid Creek Cycles and Paddleboards, and Mayor Roger Granat. Matt King of Rapid Creek Road also had some comments; he did not want the trail to come down Rapid Creek Road for a number of reasons. He also pointed out that Search and Rescue organizations might need a landing area or two to be designed along the trail for emergency evacuations.
John Howe, a COPMOBA chapter committee chair, volunteered $5,000 from his chapter as well as another $10,000 from the larger COPMOBA organization. He also volunteered to promote the sale of memberships in the Search and Rescue program to members and other mountain bikers. It is currently well supported by hunters and fishermen, but the mountain biking community has not really bought in yet.
Kristi Pollard, Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP), offered GJEP’s support, citing the great economic benefits to the entire valley.
Also in favor of the project was Sarah Schrader of the Bonzai Design Co in Grand Junction. As builders of zipline courses worldwide that employ 30 residents of the valley, Schrader feels that amenities such as the Plunge allow her to offer a more attractive package for prospective employees to entice them to move to the Grand Valley.
In the words of Scott Mercier, an interested cyclist, “This will get us on the map as having one of the biggest, coolest mountain bike rides in the world.”