New park to go in across from Purgatory

Nordic Center upgrade will be part of plan for project near ski resort

A new 24-acre community park will begin to take shape across from Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort this spring after receiving approval for a conditional-use permit from La Plata County Commissioners on Tuesday.

The park, to be on the east side of U.S. Highway 550 across from the resort, will include a handicap-accessible lake trail, picnic area, fishing docks and playground.

The $500,000 to $700,000 project is headed by Purgatory Metropolitan District, which encompasses all of the new devel­opment constructed as part of the Durango Mountain Resort Master Plan. The district will pay for part of the costs from its general fund, and it also will apply for grant funding from Great Outdoors Colorado, said John Reiter, district manager with Purgatory Metropolitan District.

The goal is for the park to become “a launching pad to the exceptional wilderness beyond,” Reiter said.

A single-track trail around the perimeter of Twilight Lake will be resurfaced with packed gravel and widened to at least 6 feet and fish will be reintroduced to the lake, according to the proposed plans. There will a picnic area with tables and a new playground that will cater to the community’s family-friendly appeal, the proposal said.

The district also plans to upgrade the existing Nordic Center at Purgatory to serve skiers in the winter and become a visitor center and multipurpose facility in the summer. Areas throughout the park will be revegetated with native grasses, plants and trees.

The metro district has been in the works for several years, and it was a requirement under the terms of the Durango Mountain Resort Development Agreement and the Trails and Recreational Uses Plan, adopted by La Plata and San Juan counties.

The land proposed for the park is currently owned by Durango Mountain Land, but the company is in the process of dedicating the property to Purgatory Metro District as per the development agreement.

Horse owners expressed some concern about sufficient equestrian parking near the Purgatory Flats trailhead, which is next to the park, but overall, there was broad support for the community park.

“I am impressed that so many people showed up today and largely in support of this project,” Commissioner Gwen Lachelt said.

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