Exploring the options: Fraser hears more public input on future of Cozens Ranch Open Space | SkyHiNews.com

Exploring the options: Fraser hears more public input on future of Cozens Ranch Open Space

Fraser Town Planner Catherine Trotter addresses the crowd Tuesday evening at the Fraser Historic Church during the second public workshop for the Fraser River Corridor Master Plan.
Sawyer D’Argonne / Sky-Hi News |

The town of Fraser held its second public workshop to discuss the Fraser River Corridor Master Plan on Tuesday night, welcoming dozens of residents to the Fraser Historic Church to provide their input on the future of the Cozens Ranch Open Space.

The workshop included a presentation from Brandon Parsons, design lead for THK Associates who are working with the town to develop a master plan and funding strategy for the project. After the presentation residents were welcome to peruse poster boards with different concepts and design ideas for the open space, placing stickers on ideas they liked, leaving suggestions and speaking with members of THK.

“I want to hear from the community,” said Parsons. “I want to know what the community wants, and I want to find and strike that right balance between natural and recreation activities to bring people here, and give the community members an amenity they can be proud of. We want to give people something they can utilize when they want, but make sure the land is protected for future generations.”

Striking a balance between constructing new recreational amenities and sustaining the natural features of the property is the goal, and most residents seem satisfied with the overarching plans for the corridor.

“My preference is the natural alternative, and my personal opinion is that the river will be loved to death no matter which of these options is picked.” Melanie Zwick, local resident

The current plans call for about 90 percent of the corridor, ranging from behind the Fraser Safeway down to Rendezvous land, to remain natural with only minor changes. The changes will focus on creating more loops on the trail to give hikers and bikers a more diverse experience, connecting the east and west sides of the trail broken up by the Grand County Water and Sewage District Ponds, creating more formalized and strategic river access points, more rest rooms, more pet stations and creating vegetative screening alongside Highway 40.

“I love the idea of adding loops because it gets a little old just hiking back and forth,” said Fraser resident Melinda Mcwilliams. “And I love the concept of keeping the southern end natural and concentrating any kind of developed recreation around the Lions Ponds. That area is more conducive to that, and I would like to keep the rest more natural for hikers, bikers and fishermen.

“And the scenery is amazing. It’s part of the scenery of our valley to be able to drive down highway 40 and see this large natural area from a major highway, and through a major community.”

The Lions Ponds area is where major recreational construction projects will likely end up, in part because the area has already been developed on in the 1980’s, and therefore could be done with less significant ecological impact, according to Parsons.

Parsons outlined three different alternatives for the Lions Ponds area based around community feedback from the last public workshop, a series of stakeholder interviews and online surveys filled out by residents.

The first alternative, focused on year round activation of the property, is the most significant. The plan details major projects including a large multi-use lawn area for concerts and recreation, children’s and adult bike parks, dispersed picnic areas, a natural playground, new pavilions and increased parking.

The second concept is focused more on education and exploration, featuring a kids’ pump track, sloped lawn amphitheater, outdoor classrooms, and several intimate gathering spaces. The final concept leaves the Lions Ponds area as natural as possible, restoring upland meadows, creating natural play areas and adding natural sculptures or educational displays.

Parsons stressed that these plans are not final, and serve as more of templates to find out what the residents respond to on a macro and micro level.

“I think keeping 90 percent of the corridor natural is what everybody can agree upon,” said Parsons. “But I have heard that people are interested in incorporating more recreation into the Lions Ponds area. So ultimately it will be a combination between the three alternatives. We need to go look at our notes and our feedback that we’ve gotten and try to distill what elements we need to include and how we combine them into a final plan.”

Public opinion of the different alternatives ranged greatly, from some residents calling for a completely natural area and others pushing more formalized recreational activities.

“My preference is the natural alternative, and my personal opinion is that the river will be loved to death no matter which of these options is picked,” said local resident Melanie Zwick.

“I think it’s really exciting, “ said Jason Trow, a part-time resident of six years. “There are a lot of great alternatives and it’s a great space. It can be made even better and more usable. I’m leaning more towards the second option, because it’s kind of a nice balance I think between leaving it natural and undisturbed and having amenities that people can enjoy.”

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