While the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program will see only one grant request next week -- $114,000 from the Hayden School District -- in the current funding cycle, the program will see five grant requests totalling almost $900,000 in the upcoming cycle.
The requests are coming from the Steamboat Lake Water and Sanitation District, the city of Steamboat Springs, the town of Oak Creek, the town of Hayden and a joint request from Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs.
The largest grant request is coming from the town of Oak Creek, which is asking for $239,230 toward a $407,000 water system improvement project.
Oak Creek Mayor Cargo Rodeman called some areas of Oak Creek's water system "an emergency situation." Those areas include about one-third of a mile of downtown streets with no fire hydrants, near Moffat Street and Colfax Avenue; another area with corroded 60-year-old pipes; and portions of the sewer system that previously have overflowed into the streets.
"The potential for fire loss is almost imminent in some areas," Rodeman said. "We hope to replace the entire sewer system by 2010, but this particular area has safety risks and needs to be taken care of immediately."
The town included in its funding request the completion of survey work to create a Geographical Information System database for future phases of utility line replacement.
Another grant request is coming from the city of Steamboat Springs for improvements to the Public Safety Building, which houses the offices of the police, fire and rescue crews.
The 20-year-old building has slowly deteriorated over the years, and the city hopes that with the help of a $250,000 Energy Impact Assistance grant, it can mend the leaking roof and inadequate ventilation system, said Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord. The total cost of the improvements is estimated at $285,800.
The town of Hayden also is looking to improve its water system. The town is requesting $164,4000 for a $235,000 project to install new radio-read water meters.
The town has been losing treated water through leaks in old pipes and meters, and therefore has been losing money from the lost water and the inaccurate meters, Town Manager Rob Straebel said.
"The new meters would save us almost two days of having one person reading meters," Straebel said. "Our cost would be greatly diminished, in that we would have more accurate reads after many have under-registered in the past few years."
The only nonmunicipal request is coming from the roughly 300 residents of the Willow Creek Pass Homeowners Association, through the Steamboat Lake Water and Sanitation District.
The group is requesting a $70,000 grant and $50,000 loan for a $182,850 project that includes repairing crushed sections of sewer mains and upgrading ventilation at the subdivision's private wastewater treatment plant.
The damaged sewer mains are suitable for now, because their capacity is almost twice what is needed, Willow Creek homeowner Kathleen Titus said. Also, a backup blower is needed at the wastewater treatment plant to ensure that proper ventilation at the plant continues.
Finally, the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County are making a joint request for $145,000 to start a countywide affordable housing group, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said it was vital that Routt County maintain the diversity of the community by meeting "the challenge of providing affordable housing for the workers, teachers, public safety, public works and businesses ... in the surrounding area."
Sullivan said starting the housing group would be nearly impossible without outside funding. But he said he was optimistic because the Department of Local Affairs, which operates the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program, has accepted similar grant proposals in the past.
"This is a good opportunity to get some leverage to support local funding with state money," Sullivan said.
Historically, the Energy Impact and Mineral Assistance Program sees about two or three requests per cycle, so the number of requests is greater than average, said Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who is a member of the Energy Impact Advisory Committee.
Usually, about $8 million is granted per cycle, but it is unknown which, if not all groups, will receive full funding, Stahoviak said.
The committee looks at each request separately, and considers how the requests are prioritized locally, Stahoviak said. It focuses on the impacts the area has from energy and mineral development and asks whether there are other ways the projects could be funded.
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