Local entities prepare to seek congressionally directed spending | SteamboatToday.com

Local entities prepare to seek congressionally directed spending

Projects include Hayden’s industrial park, fixes at Oak Creek’s Sheriffs Reservoir and a core trail extension

Oak Creek is requesting congressionally directed spending to help with fixes on its water supply, Sheriff Dam and Reservoir, seen here in November 2021.
Brian Romig/Courtesy

Hayden is still waiting to receive $2.9 million from the federal government to complete the town’s community center, and Hayden is now one of several local entities applying for funding approved by Congress.

The town had applied for congressionally directed spending from Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, to finish the Hayden Center last fall, but the town needed to wait about five months for Congress to approve the federal budget, which happened in March.

Until last year, congressionally directed spending had been absent from the halls of Congress since 2011. The federal funding is meant for important projects that may get overlooked in a traditional review process or for which funding may be difficult to identify. Together, Bennet and Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, earmarked $158 million for Colorado this fiscal year.

Applications for funding in the upcoming fiscal year that starts in October were due Friday, April 8.

This year, Hayden is requesting money for its regional industrial park project near the Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The project had been part of a national challenge competing for federal pandemic aid, but ultimately wasn’t picked for full funding.

Hayden Town Manager Mathew Mendisco said while he has doubts about getting the money for a second year in a row, the town had to try.

“You don’t know what you don’t know if you don’t ask,” he said.

One thing that aided Hayden’s application last year, Mendisco said, was the town had a “shovel ready” project, and the funding would get it to completion. Oak Creek Town Manager David Torgler hopes the same will aid Oak Creek’s proposal this year.

Oak Creek is applying for support with repairs on the Sheriff Reservoir Dam. The town has money from Routt County, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and the Colorado River District for initial repairs on the dam, but the first round of estimates have exceeded that funding.

“The bids came in high so we’re going to be rejecting those bids,” Torgler said, adding that the low bid to replace the dam’s headgate came in at $448,000 when town officials were hoping it would cost closer to $200,000.

“That’s why we are asking for these congressionally directed spending dollars,” Torgler said. “We’ve got funding partners, but at a lower amount.”

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority is making two different requests, both regarding infrastructure needed for upcoming housing projects.

One request is to construct a water line that would connect the Mt. Werner Water District to the authority’s Mid-Valley housing project, which is expected to include 200 units. A letter of support for the project also says it will improve water service on the west side of Steamboat, which will help with adding 2,300 or more units at the Brown Ranch in the coming years.

The second request is to build a new substation near the Steamboat Springs Airport that would tie the Brown Ranch property to Yampa Valley Electric Association’s larger electrical grid.

“The addition of the substation to the Brown Ranch addresses a critical infrastructure need that will allow the overall Brown Ranch program to move forward and eventually provide housing that will help to backfill the current housing shortage,” the letter says.

Steamboat Springs’ proposal involves the Brown Ranch as well.

The project is the Yampa River Core Trail extension to the west of the city, connecting outlying neighborhoods to Sleeping Giant School and ultimately, the 536-acre Brown Ranch parcel owned by the Housing Authority.

Steamboat City Manager Gary Suiter said they are calling it the West Steamboat Multi-Modal Connection, hoping to emphasize that it is meant to be a commuter trail, not just one for recreation.

The city submitted a similar proposal to senators last year but did not receive funding. Suiter said city officials feel more confident about getting funding this year, as last year’s ask was made before Brown Ranch was a reality.

“That’s happened in the meantime,” Suiter said. “Brown Ranch gives this a higher degree of credibility in my opinion.”

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