Funding a question in Farmington Lake rec plan

Dan Schwartz

FARMINGTON — Before the City Council considers a multi-million-dollar plan intended to boost recreation at Farmington Lake, Mayor Tommy Roberts said it must decide which quality-of-life projects are most important and how the city will fund them.

Officials presented the approximate $11.5 million plan to councilors Tuesday evening. It proposes building a beach, docks, picnic shelters, a trail around the lake, a playground, bathrooms, up to up to 80 camping sites and a boathouse.

Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Cory Styron gives a presentation on Farmington Lake Tuesday during a City Council meeting.

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Cory Styron has said he will recommend that councilors change the city code to allow swimming in the lake, which is currently banned.

Styron says most of the project’s costs would be wrapped up in paving, and extending water, electric and sewer utilities to the lake.

“I think this is one among several projects that would be on the table for consideration in terms of quality-of-life projects,” Roberts said during the meeting. Some of those other projects include improvements to downtown and developing the city's river trails system.

But he said the City Council needs to prioritize those projects and decide how the city will pay for them before it votes on anything. Temporary tax increases historically fund quality-of-life projects, he said.

Councilor Nate Duckett, a vocal supporter of the Farmington Lake plan, said he wants the project to happen.

“The people have been asking for it,” he said. “Outdoor recreation defines Farmington.”

Earlier in the meeting, Styron said 1,110 people visited the lake between May and late September when the city opened it to nonmotorized recreation.

Katie Feeney of DHM Design speaks to members of the Farmington City Council Tuesday.

Katie Feeney, a consultant with Durango, Colo.-based DHM Design, said lakes can draw people to communities because they are rare  in the Four Corners, and Farmington’s nearby lake is unique because the city bans boats with motors.

Many residents told the city they want more recreation at the lake in a survey officials conducted in 2014.

But Councilor Mary Fischer expressed skepticism about the plan, questioning where the project’s funding would come from and whether the city could keep its reservoir safe.

“How do we maintain a level of security for this?” she asked.

Feeney said building an office and gate at the lake’s entrance – which the plan proposes – would help keep the city’s drinking water safe. And more people playing at the lake would push most of the “dangerous element” away, Duckett said.

“I would challenge us as a group to make this work,” Duckett said.

A map of Farmington Lake is displayed on monitors Tuesday during a City Council meeting.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.