County prioritizes grant requests

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The town of Oak Creek's grant request for a water system improvement project will be at the top of Routt County's list when the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program state advisory committee meets early next year.

The county prioritization committee met Tuesday to hear the five grant requests from towns and groups. The committee then voted on a prioritization order for those requests.

After hearing presentations from each group requesting funds, the committee ranked the requests. Oak Creek's was named the county's top priority, followed by the Steamboat Lake Water and Sanitation District. The town of Hayden and a joint Routt County/Steamboat Springs request tied for third, and the city of Steamboat Springs was last.

Oak Creek Mayor Cargo Rodeman said she was excited that the committee named Oak Creek's request as most important. The decision made sense because the request relates directly to health and safety issues, she said.

Oak Creek's request was the largest of the five. The town is asking for $239,230 toward a $407,000 water system improvement project.

The project would replace and reroute 2,400 feet of water distribution line, also allowing for installation of five fire hydrants. Some of the pipes are decades old and previously have overflowed into the streets, requiring town employees to spend time working on repairs.

New fire hydrants also are crucial to the safety of the town, said Oak Creek Public Works Director Jim Photos.

"The town of Oak Creek feels that it's No. 1 priority is the health and safety of the citizens of Oak Creek, and this project does just that," Photos said.

During the grant cycle that ended early this fall, the town received a $300,000 grant to go toward a $1.5 million project to replace the town's outdated water treatment facility.

The second-ranked priority was a request for funds from the Willow Creek Pass Homeowners Association, through the Steamboat Lake Water and Sanitation District, to repair two sections of sewer main that are crushed and to reroute water outfall to the Elk River.

The group is asking for a $70,000 grant and a $50,000 loan, which it will supplement with $62,850 from its own reserves.

One of the two projects tied for third was the joint request from Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs for $159,000 to cover startup costs for the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, a countywide affordable housing group.

The other was the town of Hayden's request for $164,400 toward a $235,000 project to install new radio-read water meters.

The fifth-ranked request was Steamboat Springs' request for $225,000 for a $285,000 improvement of the Public Safety Building, which houses offices of the police, fire and rescue crews.

Final applications will be sent to the state committee by Dec. 1, and grants most likely will be awarded next summer.

The state committee considers each request separately, paying attention to how requests are prioritized locally. The Energy and Mineral Assistance Program focuses on areas impacted by energy and mineral development.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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