Steamboat Springs The grass will soon be greener, and there will be more of it at Hayden's Dry Creek Park.
The town has been awarded a $400,000 grant that will be used to make some major improvements at the park directly east of Hayden Valley Elementary School and south of the Routt County Fairgrounds.
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs energy impact assistance grant money will be used along with $200,000 the town has set aside as a local match. The town has been saving its share of lottery revenues for the past 15 years to come up with the $200,000 match.
Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin and Parks and Recreation Board Chairman Richard "Festus" Hagins went to Creede in July to present the town's case to the funding board for why Hayden deserved the money. Hagins spoke passionately about the project, Martin said.
"He was very clear about our desire for this project," Martin said. "It always helps to show emotionally that you are behind a project."
"I had a good feeling about it when we left," Hagins said. "I kept it short and sweet and to the point."
Since the land for the park was purchased by the town in 2001, improvements have been limited to a single grass field and a dirt trail that doubles as a groomed ski track during the winter. That was the first phase of the multi-phase park improvement project.
The $400,000 grant will help pay for second-phase improvements to Dry Creek Park, which includes building as many as three multi-purpose fields that could be used to host Triple Crown Sports baseball and softball tournaments. Dugouts, irrigation, bathrooms, a concession stand, a building for storage, landscaping and paved paths are also part of the $800,000 in improvements planned for the second phase. An amphitheater is planned for the third phase.
Construction of the second phase is expected to begin next year, Martin said.
News of the $400,000 grant is encouraging, especially since town officials were told in June they were not awarded a $200,000 Great Outdoors Colorado, or GOCo, local government grant. It was disappointing news to town officials because they feared the complete funding package might fall apart.
The project appears to be back on track. With the $200,000 in local matching funds and the $400,000 DOLA grant secured, town officials think they have a good chance of getting the $200,000 GOCo grant in December, which would mean they would meet their $800,000 funding goal for phase two improvements.
"It's easier for (GOCo) to say, 'We should be a part of it if everyone else is,'" Martin said. "It's not just a pie-in-the-sky (proposal) anymore. Now this is actually going to happen."
The town should find out in December if it is awarded the grant.
Dry Creek Park began to take shape in fall 2004, more than three years after the town purchased 23 acres of land for the park.
"It takes time," Hagins said. "We had to have a vision for what we wanted to do."
In early 2001, the town used a $114,000 GOCo grant to purchase 20 acres from Wes Signs. The town purchased an adjoining 2.87-acre parcel for $84,700.
"It really is about the persistence of the Town Board and the rec board that has brought this to fruition," Martin said.
- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210
or e-mail email@example.com