Steamboat Springs The city of Steamboat Springs is about to take the next step toward stabilizing its historic railroad depot.
It is applying for a grant from the Colorado Historical Society that would fund an architectural assessment of the 94-year-old Depot building and possibly a second grant to help with needed remodeling projects.
The Depot is already on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was refurbished by volunteers in the 1980s and again in the mid-1990s to accommodate its current use as home for the nonprofit Steamboat Springs Arts Council. The old waiting area is an art gallery and the baggage room doubles as a space for expanded art shows and community performances.
The city is pursuing the two-step grant process through the State Historical Fund. Nancy Kramer, who is both the executive director of the Arts Council and a city councilwoman, said the city hopes first to land a $10,000 grant to conduct a historical structural assessment on the building.
The city has issued a request for proposals from architectural firms with experience in historic preservation to perform the assessment. In addition to evaluating every aspect of the building's construction and systems, the successful firm will be asked to prioritize a list of projects that need to be undertaken and estimate the cost of those projects.
If it succeeds in that effort, the city would go for a second round of granting in October, possibly leading to beginning remodeling projects in 2004, Kramer said.
What the building needs most, Kramer said, is modernized electrical wiring and energy-efficient windows that conform to the integrity of the red brick building. But the needs assessment would also serve as a guide to what needs to be done in the future to preserve the building.
"We hope to gain a long view of what we need to do over three years, over five years to keep the structure sound," Kramer said.
There was a time when city government wasn't such a staunch supporter of preserving the Depot.
The city's request for proposals notes that in another era, local government was considering condemning the building. The Arts Council had occupied the building since 1972, but its fate was in doubt in 1980 when longtime matron of the arts Eleanor Bliss led a community drive to save and refurbish the Depot.
Bliss, who died in October 1994 at the age of 94, lined up donated labor and materials to stabilize the walls and install a new roof. The waiting room was transformed into a gallery in 1987 and the baggage room, with its exposed brick interior, was refurbished as a community auditorium and exhibit space in 1994. The building is also known as the Eleanor Bliss Center for the Arts.
The Arts Council occupies the space, including second-story offices, under a four-year lease with the city that is due to be renewed. The city does not charge the Arts Council for rent. Kramer said the equivalent of five full-time employees work in the building.
The city's request for proposals can be found on its Web site at www.steamboat-springs.net and then clicking on "bids and RFP's." Interested parties may also contact the city's historic preservation specialist, Laureen Schaffer, at 871-8278.
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