Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA group to discuss funding option
January 18, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Funding for bicycling facilities through a state tourism law will be on the table today when members of the Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA Initiative and city government meet with the Routt County Board of Commissioners.
Rich Lowe, of the Bike Town USA Initiative, and city of Steamboat Springs government programs manager Winnie DelliQuadri are expected to introduce the possibility of seeking funding through the 2009 Regional Tourism Act signed by former Gov. Bill Ritter. It is intended to drive new sales tax revenue from tourism beyond Colorado's borders by helping to finance "large scale regional tourism projects" that could be partly financed with increments of growth in state sales tax revenue.
"The county commissioners are vital partners to Bike Town USA and this is purely an informational meeting," said Grant Fenton, who is part of the Bike Town USA Initiative.
If the Regional Tourism Act funding happens, it will have to come together quickly, Bike Town USA Initiative project coordinator Lane Malone said.
"If we do this, we have to hit the ground fast because the applications are due in late March," she said.
Neither Malone nor Fenton is able to attend today's meting. But Fenton said DelliQuadri is most familiar with the state law.
The project most frequently mentioned in connection with the Regional Tourism Act as it worked its way through the Legislature was a NASCAR-style stock car racing track.
The bill's language is clear in saying that projects deemed eligible must be persuasive in demonstrating their ability to attract new tourism-generated sales tax dollars to Colorado.
The Bike Town USA Initiative is actively seeking to build on Routt County's potential to become a major cycling destination as a form of economic development. Its task force has identified the need to build or enhance opportunities for community cycling, road biking, cross-country cycling and downhill freeride/gravity-fed cycling.
Malone said there are substantial questions that must be answered before her organization could compile a funding application.
"We need to know if our application could be extended to (projects or trails) on national forest and BLM land," Malone said. "We've checked with the Colorado Economic Development Commission (which administers the bill) and they agree the bill is unclear in that regard."
The Bike Town USA Initiative task force cites a decade-old economic analysis that concluded the economic benefit from bicycling in Colorado exceeded $1 billion annually with more than 1,200 jobs spread among manufacturing and retail sales and service.