Town Park master plan

Young Nordic skiers navigate a groomed trail in Telluride Town Park. The process to update the Town Park master plan is underway. (File photo)

The process that will result in an updated master plan for Telluride Town Park and other associated town properties has begun. With the chosen consultant on-hand and with a raft of town officials and other interested parties in attendance, the first in what will be months of meetings kicked off Thursday in Rebekah Hall. The Town Park Master Plan was last updated in 2005.

“This will be a lengthy process,” Telluride Parks and Recreation Director, Stephanie Jaquet reminded the group. “Today, we’re talking about process, not outcomes.”

The goal is to have a new document, ready for Town Council approval by September. The document will go through both Parks and Recreation Planning and Zoning Commission review before landing at Town Council. The revised master plan will be the Town’s guiding document through 2035.

The Town Park master plan — which, in addition to Town Park proper, includes the pocket parks at Oak and Spruce Streets and the River Trail corridor — are roadmaps, of sorts, that help guide town staff in areas such uses, activities design and facility improvements. According to Parks and Recreation Commission member, J.J. Ossola, creating an updated master plan is an important process.

“First, it's so important to note that the master plan is a visionary document,” Ossola said. “What do we, the public, town staff, and the user groups, want our Town Park to look like in 15 years and how do we get there along the way? Town has changed so much since our last 2005 Master Plan, but also stayed the same in so many ways. It's simply time to update that vision and make sure everyone is on the same page moving forward.”

Jaquet said the updated document will be critical to her department.

“An updated Town Park master plan will help staff by providing guidance regarding use, activities, and design of facility improvements for Town Park properties to reflect the current community needs,” she said.

With the park and other Town-owned properties in greater demand since the master plan was last adopted, the assembled on Thursday were in agreement that stakeholder involvement was crucial to the process. Some of the identified stakeholders include town staff, boards and commissions, sports clubs and programs, special events, nonprofits, regional governments, the school district, commercial park users, other interest groups, general users and community members. There were suggestions to reach out to the homeless and transient populations that avail themselves of the park’s facilities, as well as making sure that meeting notifications are released in Spanish.

It was also suggested that non-users of the park were included in outreach efforts that will include public meetings, questionnaires, roundtables, one-on-one meetings, surveys, social media and direct email.

“Let’s make them feel welcome,” said Town Council member Adrienne Christy.

Attendees also brainstormed on the project’s goals and objectives. With Jaquet encouraging that the suggestions remain as broad brush-stroke as possible, ideas such as eliminating the campground, sustainable practices, preservation of the natural environment, meeting changing recreational needs (the rise in popularity of pickle ball was cited as an example), expanding the campground, greater efficiency for operations and facilities and providing balance for all the user groups will be discussed as the process evolves.

And, Parks and Recreation Commission member, Teddy Errico added that he’d like to see “revitalized youth usage in the park.”

Ossola is excited to dive into the process, which will take much of the year to complete.

“Simply being part of the process on how to make such an amazing place better for our community excites me a ton,” he said. “But even more importantly, with an eight-year-old son, I realize how much this roadmap will affect him and all of the Telluride youth who will thrive there for the remainder of their school years here.”

The next step is stakeholder input with an as-yet determined roundtable Feb. 19 and 20. The Parks and Rec board meets Feb. 19 and for homework, will tackle “major priorities for the effort, perceived strengths and weaknesses (in current facilities and programs) and needs and wants for the properties,” according to the staff memo.

Guiding the process from start to finish will be the consultants selected for the master planning update, is Zehren and Associates, who specialize in working with mountain communities and alpine resorts. The firm’s landscape architect, Pedro Campos and landscape architect and land planner Tim Halbakken were each on-hand Thursday. The consultants are based in Avon, Colorado.

Ossola was most impressed by the team that has been assembled to create a new roadmap for the park.

“What a great team we have working on the project,” he said after the meeting. “Great staff, great town council members engaged in the process, and what seems to be a very smart and experienced consultant to guide us along the way.

He’s abundantly aware of just how much work lies ahead for the project’s team.

“I would be naïve to think it will be an easy process,” Ossola said. “There will be many challenges along the way getting feedback and consensus from everyone. So we beg and urge the public to stay engaged early and often in this process. There will be many opportunities to contribute thoughts and ideas on what our Town Park should look like in 2035.”

Jaquet praised the 2005 master plan at the meeting’s conclusion.

“The 2005 master plan has been a great roadmap for staff,” she said. “The overarching goal is making this (updated master plan)ß a proactive document for future planning.”