News Column

Riverwalk plans to go forward

June 25, 2014

By Dennis Darrow, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

June 25--The Urban Renewal Authority's board of commissioners on Tuesday moved to keep the expansion of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo on track.

The 11-person group directed its Riverwalk committee to prepare options for traditional financing mechanisms from local banks and others to get the first phase rolling by late this year or early next year.

The group expects to review the options at its July 22 work session.

The group also gave the Riverwalk committee the green light to start drafting detailed design plans for the Pueblo Convention Center exhibit hall and other first-phase projects.

The moves come after City Council this month rejected a proposal to finance the $14 million first phase with an interest-free loan from the half-cent sales tax fund.

Urban Renewal saw the loan as a way to save millions of dollars in fees and interest costs but the idea drew support from only two of seven council members.

On Tuesday, several Urban Renewal board members criticized council's vote but the group as a whole pivoted to drawing up plans to move the project forward.

Riverwalk Director Jim Munch, chair of Urban Renewal's Riverwalk committee, said the committee would explore various financing mechanisms and visit with local banks in an effort to get the lowest interest rates.

Whatever financing option is put in place, funding to pay for the first phase and subsequent phases is flowing -- and at a faster clip than planners imagined.

In just two years, the city has received $877,000 of the $40 million- plus in state sales tax pledged toward the overall expansion, Munch said.

The city expects the annual contributions will keep growing each year, possibly reaching about $1 million a year by 2016 and $2 million a year by 2020.

The Urban Renewal board left open the option of requesting a November ballot question on the half-cent loan but most members sounded cool to the idea, saying they do not want the project delayed any further.


(c)2014 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)

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Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)

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