Steamboat Springs When it comes to things that need to be changed, it's hard to beat children breathing coal dust.
The Routt County Energy Impact Committee decided South Routt School District's need for a new heating system outweighed competing proposals for a new police station in Hayden and a remodel and expansion of the city of Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services building.
All three projects are applying for $500,000 grants from the state's Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance program. The county committee met Tuesday to prioritize the projects before they go before the state grant committee later this year.
The committee's prioritization will not affect any of the projects' ability to apply for the state grants. Prioritization is not required, but County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said the county does it to let the state committee know which projects it thinks are most important and also to give applicants pointers on how they can improve their proposals before final submission.
In his presentation, South Routt School District Super-intendent Kelly Reed said the coal-fired boiler systems at Yampa Elementary School and Soroco High School and Middle School are extremely unreliable and cause major indoor air quality issues from coal dust and soot in the school buildings.
"To make a long story short, we have 1950s boilers," Reed said. "And they're worn out. They're flat worn out."
Reed said he hopes to replace the boiler system with ground source heat pump systems. The projected cost of the project is more than $3 million. Its remaining cost would largely rely on a funding request to be put to South Routt voters in November. If that measure should fail, Reed said the district would "prioritize and fix what we can."
In his presentation for a new police station, Hayden Police Chief Ray Birch said the station was "desperately needed" and that the department has "borrowed space and improvised for 20 years." The committee put the Hayden request second on the priority list.
Hayden's seven full-time officers work out of offices totaling about 200 square feet in the Town Hall. Hayden's growth has contributed to the need for a new station, Birch said. The department has received 400 more calls for assistance this year than it did at the same time last year, Birch said. The proposed facility near the corner of Shelton Lane and County Road 37 would be 5,500 square feet and would anticipate the continued growth of Hayden.
Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Wilson presented the city of Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services' proposal. Wilson said Steamboat has grown dramatically since the department's building was last upgraded in 1991. In 1991, Steamboat had 15 parks, compared to 26 now, Wilson said.
Wilson said a study showed the building needed a 5,300-square-foot expansion just to meet current needs. The project would renovate 2,000 square feet and construct 6,000 more, at a cost of $3.6 million.
The Routt County Energy Impact Committee is made up of representatives from Routt County and Twentymile Coal Co. The energy impact grants are designed to assist communities affected by the growth and decline of energy and mineral industries in the state. Grant funds come from the state severance tax on energy and mineral production and from a portion of the state's share of royalties paid to the federal government for mining and drilling of minerals and mineral fuels on federally owned land.