Commissioners approve funding for Silt street project |

Commissioners approve funding for Silt street project

Ryan Hoffman

Garfield County commissioners Monday extended a financial lifeline to the town of Silt for an infrastructure project seen as critical for economic development.

Commissioners approved $260,638 to help fill a funding gap for phase six of the town’s street improvement plan. The sixth phase will take improvements — similar to those already completed on portions of Main Street west of the roundabout — east of the Interstate 70 interchange on Main Street.

The entire project, which is broken down into six phases, dates back to 2011 and cost millions of dollars, which have come from the town and grants.

Ensuring that the town keeps a large chunk of those grant dollars for phase 6 weighed heavily in the decision by the commissioners.

In 2015, Silt received $150,000 grant from the Office of Economic Development and International Trade to conduct engineering and Colorado Department of Transportation permitting for improvements east of the roundabout. The town matched $138,000 for the work.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs then awarded the town a $450,000 grant, which the town matched with $680,370, in December for the project.

However, the town learned in April it was unsuccessful in obtaining $260,638 in grant money from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District.

The town is aware there are no guarantees when applying for these grants, Pamela Woods, town administrator, told commissioners Monday morning.

Commissioner Mike Samson and Woods noted the Garfield County FMLD — which allocates grants using money from mineral leasing on federal lands within the county — has contributed funding to the first five phases, including $563,770 in 2015.

Shortly after learning about the FMLD grant this spring, a survey required by the Colorado Department of Transportation revealed an estimated $275,000 in unforeseen costs.

The two developments raised concerns about whether or not the town would comply with the requirements in the DOLA grant.

During a joint meeting between the commissioners and Silt trustees on June 13, Woods did not state the town would be unable to fill the funding shortfall, but said the amount is substantial for the town.

Attempting to come up with those dollars would pose significant hardship for Silt, which has already invested heavily in the project.

Running the risk of falling out of DOLA’s good graces — if the town failed to comply with the grant requirements — also is undesirable, Woods said at the joint meeting.

Commissioner John Martin, in recognizing the shortfall could delay the project and potential economic development benefits associated with it, suggested at the joint meeting that the town request funding through the county’s energy mitigation fund.

“You’re so close to completing the entire project … I’d hate to see it stop and wait a few more years,” Martin said.

Town officials noted at the joint meeting that the improvements would help in attracting several businesses, including one that Mayor Rick Aluise stated was “shovel ready” but waiting on the necessary infrastructure that would be completed in phase 6.

None of the three commissioners on Monday objected to the funding request, but Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said the situation came with special circumstances — specifically the possibility of having a DOLA grant on the line.

While he predicted other communities might come forward with funding requests from the county’s energy mitigation fund, Jankovsky said those communities will have to demonstrate that they have funding at risk.

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