GOCO wants more info before giving parks more money
DENVER ” The agency that funnels lottery proceeds to outdoor projects has demanded a better explanation from the State Parks Division about how the money is being spent before releasing another $8.5 million.
The board of Great Outdoors Colorado cited discrepancies and inconsistencies in financial documents provided by parks officials. GOCO also has concerns about the division’s plans to build luxury cabins at the new Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs, officials told The Denver Post in Thursday’s editions.
“How can you give someone new money if they can’t account for how they are spending it?” GOCO executive director John Swartout said.
GOCO, set up under a measure approved by voters in 1992, distributes proceeds from the state lottery for projects that protect and improve wildlife, parks, rivers, trails and open space.
Parks director Lyle Laverty said the division is addressing the documentation problems and expects to have them resolved in days.
“We have taken a number of actions based on discussions we have had with GOCO. We are within days of having all of that cleaned up and behind us,” Laverty said.
Laverty said the cabins and other amenities planned for Cheyenne Mountain are an attempt to attract big-spending visitors and more income for the parks.
Laverty said Colorado ranks 40th in the nation in state spending for parks, and lawmakers have told the division its parks should be more self-sufficient.
The division expects to spend about $40 million developing the 1,700-acre Cheyenne Mountain Park. Plans call for cabins valued at up to $815,000, a $1.26 million lodge and a $4.3 million events center.
GOCO said it had been asking the division for a full business plan for the park since 2004. This month it received a plan from 2002, which had called for only $8.6 million to be spent on trails, amenities and roads.
“We understand the dire straits that the state parks (are) in with the loss of general-fund revenue over the years,” Swartout said. “But we are bound by what the constitution says we should spend the money on.”
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