Faced with the prospect of losing $64,000, dismayed town trustees decided at their last meeting to ask the state for another extension to fulfill the terms of a lottery grant for the municipal hockey rink.
The town is counting on the grant to pay more than half the cost of upgrading the rink. The decision to seek an extension came after the board was told that the town owes more money for its part of the upgrade than the trustees thought.
At a work session after the town meeting on May 25, Tim Corrigan, representing the South Routt Hockey Association, explained to the board that an $11,000 tennis court-like surface needs to be laid on the rink before the conditions of the grant are fulfilled. The new surface would allow the rink to be used in the summer.
According to the grant agreement, the surface needed to be put down by June 1. Failure to meet the conditions of the grant would mean the $64,000 the town has already spent on an upgrade project at the rink would not be reimbursed by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCo). The total price of the improvements, including in-kind donations and services, is $110,000.
Besides taking a big chunk out of the town's limited budget, failing to fulfill the grant might affect the town's chances to secure future grants through GOCo, the trustees feared. One grant in particular would be used to put a roof on the hockey rink.
The extension for the rink overlay is needed because the hockey association expected the town to come up with the $11,000. However, the trustees said they weren't aware they owed that much. More importantly, they said the town doesn't have the money.
"I don't see where we can come up with the $11,000 to pay for the surface," Trustee Mike Kien said, prior to the decision to seek an extension.
The board members were dismayed because they said they were guaranteed by the hockey association to be indebted to the improvement project no more than $5,000 after GOCo paid the town back $64,000.
Oak Creek Mayor Deb Van Gundy read Corrigan the minutes from the Feb. 11 town meeting at which Geri Bruggink, representing the South Routt Hockey Association, told the trustees that the town would pay no more than $5,000 in cash.
"None of that information came to me," Corrigan responded.
He told town officials that the rink project is actually on budget except for the $11,000.
The trustees had assumed that two $2,500 grants from Ascent Sports and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. would be secured by the hockey association and passed on to the town to help pay for the overlay. That did not happen.
Pete Daley, who was involved with the hockey association during the GOCo grant application process, said the grants were obtained and but the money has already been spent. Daley, who characterized the money problem as a simple miscommunication between the town and the hockey association, wouldn't go into detail on the matter until he talked to town officials.
Van Gundy agreed that a lack of communication between the hockey association and the town was a major factor in the money mix-up and is why the town was dealing with the problem less than a week prior to the deadline.
"We left too much to the hockey association," she said.
In an attempt to solve the problem, Corrigan told the trustees that $2,000 remains in the ice rink's budget, and that money, added to the $5,000 the town agreed to pay, would be more than half of what's needed to pay for the new surface.
Corrigan said the hockey association and the town could find a solution to come up with the remaining $4,000 if they had time.
The town trustees eventually agreed and decided through an informal "straw poll" to seek the extension from GOCo.
"We need to get this done because we need the money," Kien said, referring to the $64,000.
Van Gundy said she was working on the extension application on Tuesday and hoped to send it by Wednesday (May 31) a day before the grant deadline.
It will be the second time the town has sought an extension. The first was granted when weather problems kept the town from finishing the project by an October 1999 deadline.
Van Gundy was optimistic Tuesday about finishing the rink upgrades and getting the $64,000.
"I don't see us not getting it," she said. "It might cost a little more, but we'll get it."
It will take three to five days for the surface to be installed on the rink.
Van Gundy said the town leaders learned a lesson and won't soon agree to front grant money for the hockey association without first putting a financial-participation agreement on paper.
"This will never happen again," she said. "We'll get everything in writing next time."
To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org