Hwy 24 casts long shadow
Relocation of Prospector statue is already planned
As part of an expanded Highway 24 and greenway project, the Prospector statue would have to be moved from its grassy mound at the northwest corner of 21st
Street and 24.
Although plans are far from final and no funds yet budgeted, the most likely new site - should the highway expansion/greenway become reality - would be the northeast corner of 26th Street and 24, according to longtime Westside leader Dave Hughes, who supports the greenway idea (but remains skeptical about the highway project's scope).
“I already got the greenway guys to agree on that,” Hughes said in a recent interview, referring to an informal committee consisting of Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) planners, CDOT consultants, local government staffers and citizens (including himself).
However, the relocation idea has not been received with enthusiasm by the statue developers. “I'm certainly disappointed,” said sculptor Cloyd Barnes, who created the bronze of the mountain-gazing miner and his burro. “It's hard to beat that site.”
Jack Patterson helped form a non-profit foundation that raised $120,000 to cover project costs, including Barnes' fee and the placement of the statue at its current site eight years ago. “Where it is, is ideal,” he said. “I'd hate to see it move.”
The brickwork-enhanced mound was part of a safety-oriented realignment of Naegele Road 20 years ago by the city and the Colorado Highway Division (now CDOT). The state-envisioned expansion would remove Naegele Road altogether while creating a full interchange with a six-lane Highway 24 going over 21st.
The 26th/24 intersection would be at-grade, with a stoplight, as it is today.
There's one point on which all parties agree: The statue, which weighs ¾ of a ton, would be hard to move. Also, the concrete platform it's bolted into “may have to be taken apart,” Patterson said.
For Hughes, there would be a sacrifice as well. Some years ago, as part of the Old Colorado City revitalization, he helped put an “Old Colorado City” promotional sign at the northwest corner of 26th and 24 - an effort that required obtaining legislative approval because of its highway location. But if the Prospector statue was moved to that intersection, the sign would have to go - the idea being that the statue would make the 26th Street entry to Old Colorado City “more inviting” to highway drivers, he explained.
The greenway committee has reached no decision yet on whether a grassy mound would be created for the statue at 26th, Hughes added.
Although he fears a drastically larger highway could harm Old Colorado City businesses, Hughes has said he likes the greenway component because it's a chance to improve the looks of the Westside, expand Vermijo Park and provide historically educational information to area visitors. Others have openly wondered whether a greenway is affordable or if it could go in separate of the highway scope that CDOT proposes.
CDOT and its chief consultant, CH2M HILL, are continuing to seek public input on highway/greenway plans. To leave comments or get more information, call 477-4970.
Westside Pioneer article