March 11, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded the City of Greeley a $300,000 grant to support the first phase of construction in the city’s east Greeley natural area. The project site is currently an agricultural field that will be turned into a neighborhood outdoor space. City officials envision this new site as a park-open space hybrid providing residents with easy access to nature in their neighborhood.
The City of Greeley, in partnership with the Jerry Pawl unit of the Boys and Girls Club, School District 6, Poudre Learning Center, Colorado Youth Outdoors, and GOCO have been working in the East Memorial neighborhood for more than four years to identify opportunities to address barriers to outdoor recreation in east Greeley. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted disparities in outdoor access as many Coloradans sought close-to-home recreation.
GOCO funding will move forward the Greeley’s Culture Parks and Recreation Department effort to build upon this natural area in 2021. The site for this new natural area is located just east of the Discovery Bay Waterpark, 714 E. 24th St. The community will have a chance to name the natural area this spring.
City staff have started the first phase of development and design. Construction begins in early summer with nature play amenities, interactive public art installations, a trail network, and native landscaping. City officials hope to open the area to the public by October 2021. Future phases could include an archery area, urban camping spaces, and a community gathering pavilion. The timeline for subsequent phases is not yet determined.
“We’re excited to be working with community members, non-profits, schools, city partners, and other stakeholders to continue the work of developing easy nature access in east Greeley,” said Justin Scharton, superintendent of Greeley’s Parks, Trails and Natural Areas Division. “This GOCO award will provide the ability to develop the first phase of this natural area for the enjoyment of the neighborhood.”
In addition to the GOCO funding, the City of Greeley contributed more than $1.1 million to the $1.6 million project. The Colorado Health Foundation awarded a $220,000 grant for the first phase of design, and the Weld County Conservation Corps will support the project through an in-kind donation of youth crew work.
“We appreciate the partnership and recognition from GOCO that these projects in East Greeley are important and worthy of funding,” Scharton said.
In February, the Greeley City Council adopted the “Get Outdoors Greeley” Natural Areas and Trails strategic plan. The East Greeley natural area exemplifies the kind of projects the Greeley’s Natural Areas & Trails Division officials seek to provide throughout the community in the next five years.
Visit greeleygov.com/NaturalAreas for more information.