Botanic building needs more funds |

Botanic building needs more funds

Solar panels generate educational buzz at Trillium House

— The board of directors of the Yampa River Botanic Park has raised $350,000 to cover the cost of building the new 1,400-square-foot Trillium House park headquarters. However, they still have $150,000 to raise if they are to achieve their goal of fully reimbursing the park’s endowment.

The park is owned by the city, and the city technically is the developer of Trillium House. However, the benefactors of the park have taken on all of the expenses associated with operating the park and capital expenses.

“We are very proud of running this park without any city money,” Bob Enever said. “We never anticipated we would run into the national financial crisis.”

He quickly added that the city of Steamboat Springs has contributed $52,000 to Trillium House to offset the cost of public bathrooms, which will replace the longstanding portable toilets at the entrance to the park.

In addition to indoor plumbing, staff offices and a meeting room, Trillium House will offer public benefit in the form of a flagstone courtyard and a catering kitchen. They will enable the park to host small gatherings and perhaps add wedding receptions to the ceremonies already held there. They, in turn, will generate new operating revenues.

Trillium House also has allowed the botanic park to take part in an innovative active solar energy project. The new solar panels on Trillium’s roof represent a $25,000 gift to the park from the Sierra Club. The money comes from its Solar Energy and Education Demonstration fund.

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The panels are expected to generate excess energy that can be returned to the grid. They are part of a demonstration project that the public will be able to monitor via a Web site that is capable of providing real-time information about power generation. A sign installed along the Yampa River Core Trail will explain the project.

Board President Emily Seaver is particularly pleased with an 8-foot cedar fence built this fall along the southern property boundary of the park.

“It gives the residents of the mobile home park more privacy and, for park visitors, it doesn’t feel like you’re looking in someone’s windows,” she said.

Enever and his wife, Audrey, donated the land for the park and, more recently, a corner of the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park to enable construction of Trillium House, just off the Yampa River Core Trail.

The Enevers also endowed the botanic park with $1 million, which is devoted to generating a stream of revenue sufficient to covering operating expenses.

Seaver said the challenge ahead of the board late this year is to raise the additional $150,000 so that the endowment may be fully restored.

The $500,000 construction cost of the building, which should obtain its certificate of occupancy early next year, initially has been paid for by the city under an agreement that requires the botanic park board to reimburse the city for its endowment.

“The endowment really made a loan to Trillium House,” Seaver said. “The fundraising campaign will go on until we’ve paid back the endowment.”