City, county awarded $1.2M
Howelsen jumps, fire station, fairgrounds to benefit
Steamboat Springs — With $1.2 million worth of grants, Routt County was the second-largest beneficiary for the state’s most recent round of Energy Impact fund grants.
Routt County, which had three projects funded, came after Grand County, which received almost $1.3 million in granting for four projects.
The city of Steamboat Springs received $900,00 toward upgrading the ski jumps at Howelsen Hill and expanding the fire station on U.S. 40 near Casey’s Pond. Routt County received $300,000 for the construction of the indoor facility at the Routt County Fairgrounds.
The $600,000 awarded to the Colorado Ski Heritage Project to put plastic on the Howelsen Hill ski jumps was the highest amount given to any project during the granting cycle. Las Animas County also received $600,000 to use toward road projects.
Gov. Bill Owens announced Thursday 66 projects statewide totaling more than $13 million had received money through the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance funds.
But both the city and county were confident in mid-March that the grants would be awarded after a state committee recommended to approve the proposals. That recommendation was passed to Bob Brooks, the Department of Local Affairs’ executive director, who made the final decision.
And City Intergovernmental Services Director Linda Kakela said the city received formal notification of the grant approval for the fire station in late March and the ski jumps last week.
Managed by the DOLA, the Energy Impact fund is built with severance taxes on coal mines and other mineral extractors and the state’s share of royalties paid to the federal government for extracting minerals on federal land.
According to DOLA statistics, Routt County’s total value of mineral production from 1996 to 2000 was $628.6 million and represented 5 percent of the state’s total value of mineral production. During the same time, the severance tax Routt County paid to the DOLA’s grant fund was $5.2 million and $4.3 million was contributed to the Local Impact Fund in federal mineral leases.
Routt County is the leading coal-producing county in Colorado. But a DOLA official said allocation of the Energy Impact fund is not determined by how much money the county’s mineral revenue brings into the state.
The fund is meant to help communities deal with the impacts of mineral extraction through improvements to basic public facilities and infrastructure.
The city’s request to expand the fire station to include an ambulance bay, offices, training room and residence area was an example of funding for a direct impact of mineral extraction.
But Winnie DelliQuadri, the city’s grant analyst, said the request for funding the ski jumps was a harder sell. The heritage committee wants to put plastic on the jumps to allow jumpers to train year-round and ensure Steamboat will remain one of the premier jumping facilities in the West.
“Economic diversity was a much harder project to get impact funding for simply because it was an indirect connection,” DelliQuadri said.
The members of the heritage project told the state committee that Steamboat’s economy would be hurt if and when the mineral industry leaves.
And renovating the ski jumps, a vital part of the city’s ski history, would help keep the ski industry strong for when other industries leave.
The state committee and Brooks agreed granting the city $600,000 this year and allocating another $600,000 for the ski jumps next year. An additional $1.2 million by the heritage committee will match the grant.
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