STARS Ranch starting to take shape | SteamboatToday.com

STARS Ranch starting to take shape

Construction work begins on the lodge, which will be the centerpiece of the new STARS Ranch, located east of downtown Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Construction activity at the future site of the STARS Ranch has picked up during the past few weeks as the $5.6 million dollar project gets underway.

"Construction has started, and the footing should be going in next week," said Julie Taulman, executive director of STARS – Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports.

Taulman said she believes STARS Ranch will be an asset for the community and will allow the nonprofit to provide much needed services while creating a centralized hub for programming for people with disabilities. The facility will be used for day programming and overnight camps.

"We will immediately be able to serve more clients through our programs because we will have overnight accommodations that we can bring in groups that need added support or accessible lodging," Taulman said. "We can bring in groups whether they are grant-funded or paying groups. Right now, during a busy season or a holiday, we can't bring in a group of 25 veterans because we can't get lodging."

The first phase of the project will include a nine-bedroom lodge with a community kitchen and a great room that can seat up to 120 people or be set up for a more intimate experience for smaller groups.

Taulman said the space could also be used for things like yoga, training sessions for volunteers and other meetings.

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"It's really set up for when we have our groups in," Taulman said. "It's designed to support our camps and programs."

The lodge will be located on a nine-acre ranch which will include a therapy riding center, archery center and accessible ropes course. The project was set up in phases, Taulman said, so that STARS could start using the facility as soon as possible.

The fundraising efforts for the first phase have gone very well, and thanks to a $100,000 challenge grant from the Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation that runs through Dec. 14, Taulman is optimistic about closing the funding gap on the first phase.

"We are so grateful to the STARS board and staff for their programs which make our wonderful community more accessible and vibrant for everyone,” Sara Craig-Scheckman said. "Michael and I are excited about the possibilities available for people with disabilities through the STARS Ranch. It will be a true community asset, and we are excited to be a part of it."

Taulman is hoping the grant will also generate donations for the second phase of the project. Fundraising currently stands at $5,086,998.

"Ultimately, I would say we are looking to raise another million dollars because we could add on immediately," Taulman said. "We didn't think we could fund that phase right off the bat."

Taulman said it would be easier and cheaper to finish the entire project, and she is hoping that the challenge grant will help STARS get to that point.

"This is not tax funded. This is not coming from state or federal funds," Taulman said. "Every single dollar that is going into this project is being donated by somebody in our community, or outside of our community, that are investing in this project.

"This project is also in the enterprise zone, and as part of that, people who are residents of the state of Colorado can take an additional tax credit by giving a contribution to this project," Taulman added.

She said the project has attracted a wide range of donations from across the community.

"It's huge," she said of the contributions. "When they come out and hear the stories, and they see the programs and see how it's going to change lives, they realize how important it is to have a centralized facility to be able to support our growing programs, and I think that is really the amazing piece of it."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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