Howelsen facilities receive grants |

Howelsen facilities receive grants

Avi Salzman

— Steamboat’s big mountain is lending a helping hand to its little mountain.

Two Howelsen Hill Park facilities received grants from the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation’s Contribution Committee this week. The jumps at Howelsen Hill and the nearby skateboard park both won grants for capital upgrades through the Ski Corp.’s annual community granting process. The Ski Corp. has given out $75,000 in grants to local community groups every year since 1985 through an appointed seven-member contributions committee made up of local residents and members of community organizations. This year it received $151,423 in requests and had to whittle them in half.

Ski Corp. spokesman and contributions committee member Mike Lane said this year was one of the largest ever for requests.

“It makes it hard when there are so many good projects out there,” Lane said, adding that the committee looks to help as many people as it can when reviewing the applications.

“When we look at the contributions, we try to make sure we can do as much good for as many people as possible,” he said.

A group of locals has formed a committee to outfit the ski jumps at Howelsen with plastic, a project with a price tag in the millions of dollars. Plastic jumps have become the norm at ski jumping facilities around the world, allowing jumpers to train year-round. The $14,000 grant from the Ski Corp. will get the wheels rolling as the group and its cause, previously called the Colorado Olympian Project and currently called the Steamboat Heritage Project, prepares to impress politicians and dignitaries at next weekend’s World Cup competitions.

“We’ve got $14,000. We’ve got $10 million to go. We love challenges,” said former City Council President Kevin Bennett, who is heading up the group. “We’re just getting going on actually collecting money.”

The skate park’s advocates, who have been concerned in the past that the park was stuck in the shadow of the jumps when it came to funding, also received a chunk of change from the committee. The park, which is made mostly of wood and metal, has needed constant maintenance and has been criticized by some for being unsafe.

Cassandra Krause, the matriarch of a hard-core skateboarding family, applied for a total of $15,000, but was granted $8,500 to buy new equipment for the skate park. The city will match the grant, bringing it to $17,000, said Parks and Recreation Director Chris Wilson.

Krause made a video of her presentation for the committee. Lane said that video was especially impressive.

“She was going the extra step,” Lane said.

Skateboarding advocates are now attempting to build a concrete park. While this money will not be going directly toward that goal, it will help the advocates make the necessary upgrades to the current park, Krause said.

“I think people will really be taken aback by the quality of the facility that will be coming together in the next few months,” said T.C. Johnstone, a counselor at Young Life who thinks skateboarding offers young people a way to have fun in a healthy environment.

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