Emerald City funds short

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— With less than three weeks before the new year, the city still has not found funding to pay the lease on Emerald City for most of 2002.

The granting institutions the city is counting upon to foot much of the bill have so far not been willing to put up the money and the city has made no moves to reconsider its decision to withhold funding.

Within the space of about 24 hours, the city filled out three main grant applications to raise money to lease the Emerald City building for eight months, said City Manager Paul Hughes. The Human Resource Coalition, Steamboat Springs Rotary Club, and the Yampa Valley Community Foundation all received applications for grants from the city, which was hoping to raise at least $30,000, Hughes said. The city has also been contacted by private donors and has spoken with other organizations, though Hughes did not indicate that they had given enough money to pay for the lease.

At this point, however, the city has only been approved for $5,000 from the three organizations and will likely only have access to about $15,000 at the most from the granting institutions. The Human Resource Coalition, which represents the community's social service organizations, is the only organization to provide money this granting cycle.

The Yampa Valley Community Foundation was ready to offer the city $5,000 after the Rotary Club's granting committee challenged the foundation to match a proposed Rotary grant. But on Monday Rotary's Board of Directors balked at funding the facility by a 3-3 vote, Hughes said.

Rotary President Mike Roberts and other board members were not available or not willing to comment, but Rotary Vice President Rod Hanna said the granting committee will discuss the issue at its next meeting Tuesday.

The Community Foundation and the Rotary Club are both able to reconsider, but it appears unlikely they will come up with the full $25,000 the city needs to keep Emerald City stay open for eight months. The city's request to the Community Foundation was for $20,000. The foundation only had $25,000 to give out this granting cycle and $70,000 in requests, said Dianna Sutton, the president of the foundation.

For the next two and a half weeks, the city will attempt to get as much money as it can to buy as much time as it can at Emerald City, Hughes said.

"When we find out how much we've got, we'll make it last as long as we can," Hughes said.

The city will still pay for programs and personnel for youth after-school activities, but they may be held at a number of spots throughout the city until after August, when the city could host the programs in the modulars next to the newly renovated Howelsen Ice Arena.

The city's dilemma came about because the owner of the building offered a lease renewal for approximately three times what the city had been paying, Parks and Recreation Director Chris Wilson said. By the time the owner lowered his rate and the city reviewed its budget, the city could not afford it, he said.

The city currently pays $30,000 to rent out the 4,000-square-foot facility, a cost way under market value, Wilson said.

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