Oak Creek plans new park with $11K CDOT grant award
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Oak Creek is one of six communities across Colorado that received grant funding to help the local economy and promote social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first batch of grants from Colorado Department of Transportation’s Revitalizing Main Streets program allocated about $244,000 to towns and cities, mostly on the Western Slope.
Oak Creek received just over $11,700 of the funding, which it plans to put toward a new park downtown. It will be located at a vacant lot owned by the town next to the Silver Buckle Saloon along Main Street, according to Oak Creek Administrator and Clerk Chris Johnson, who applied for the grant.
“It’s kind of the hub of the town, both geographically and very literally,” Johnson said of the location.
The town plans to install six picnic tables at the park, three of which will be wheelchair accessible. There also will be a bike repair station for cyclists, among other amenities.
“By getting this grant, we are able to get top-quality equipment in there,” Johnson said.
The new park will create a public resting area downtown for people who visit or pass through the town, particularly the many cyclists who make pit stops along their biking routes. An avid biker himself, Johnson has been offering his garage, also located along Main Street, as a place for cyclists to access water or pump air into their tires.
By offering more outdoor seating downtown, Johnson hopes the park can entice people to stay longer in Oak Creek and visit nearby businesses.
Oak Creek was the recipient of another grant, this one from the Yampa River Fund, back in May, which it also plans to put toward enhancing public spaces. The town received nearly $45,000 to make improvements along Oak Creek, the waterway that runs through the community, and possibly add more park amenities along the namesake creek.
The Revitalizing Main Streets program is allocating a total of $4.1 million to communities that want to make creative changes to roadways or other public spaces as a way of promoting social distancing and economic activity. Oak Creek was selected among the first round of applications based on how the planned park supports both COVID-mitigation efforts and different modes of transportation, according to CDOT spokesperson Bob Wilson.
While most of the places that received funding from the first batch of CDOT awards are on the Western Slope, Wilson said the goal is to distribute the grant money across Colorado.
“We are trying to be equitable throughout the state,” he said of the funding.
The other communities that received funding from the CDOT program include Aspen, Alamosa, Littleton, Frisco and Silt. Aspen plans to use its funding to expand restaurant capacity under COVID-19 restrictions and improve e-bike infrastructure. Littleton will put the money toward its Weekends on Main initiative, which closes Main Street on summer weekends to let restaurants add more tables for dine-in service.
More grant funding is available through the CDOT program. To apply, visit codot.gov/programs/communitychallenge/assets/revitalizingmainstreetsgrantapplication.pdf.
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When the Morse family got a call on their home phone about the Colorado Comeback Scholarship program, Toby Morse said he wasn’t quite sure what it was about.