Routt County plays ball with Steamboat middle school's Great Outdoors Colorado grant application

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— The Steamboat Springs School District’s application to Great Outdoors Colorado for a $76,848 grant to help rebuild the playing field, running track and bleachers at the middle school received unanimous support Tuesday from the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

“The competition for field space in this town is incredible,” Commissioner Steve Ivancie said. “With all of this competitive softball, soccer, lacrosse — the more fields we can open, the better, and I look forward to doing more of this in the future.”

School District grant writer Karla Setter told the commissioners the application to GOCo is enhanced by the donation of two days of work on the project by the Steamboat Springs Community Youth Corps, representing a $2,495 grant match on the part of the city of Steamboat Springs. The School District proposes to match the grant with $25,616 to reach the estimated cost of $102,464.

The district needed the county’s endorsement because only local governments are eligible for grants from Great Outdoors Colorado.

The funds will be used to recondition soils beneath the natural grass field, create a crown in the field to improve drainage, kill noxious weeds and lay new sod.

The playing field is more than 30 years old, and although it was built with what was then a state-of-the-art irrigation system, the soil was dominated by clay and the grass never flourished, according to the grant application.

The track, used by the public as well as by school students, is built of road base and would be regraded to reduce puddling, according to the grant application. Throughout the decades, the margins of the track have blended into the grass and weeds along the edge of the quarter-mile oval, and that also would be addressed by the project.

If the project comes to fruition, the existing soil will be tilled and amended with 550 cubic yards of compost before the new sod is put in place. About 10 additional irrigation sprinkler heads would be added to the irrigation system to ensure adequate watering.

Finally, a 21-foot set of portable, aluminum bleachers would be installed adjacent to the field.

The School District did not consider an all-weather track or an artificial playing field surface because of the cost and the availability of those facilities for competitions at nearby Steamboat Springs High School.

Board Chairman Doug Monger said the county had received assurances from the School District that the facilities would be open to the public, and Setter said GOCo requires public access.

The interaction of the county and the district on the project will be governed by an intergovernmental agreement.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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