Cooper Commons wins largest FMLD grant ever
Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District Spring 2016 Traditional grants:
• Colorado Mountain College/Garfield County Public Library District, Cooper Commons second-floor meeting space – $750,000
• Rifle, water treatment plant improvements – $400,000
• Glenwood Springs,14th Street pedestrian bridge – $350,000
• Garfield County School District Re-2, Elk Creek Elementary roof replacement – $240,000
• Parachute, rest area remodel – $50,000
• Carbondale, Third Street Center restrooms/sewer lines – $25,000
• Garfield County School District Re-2, Elk Creek Elementary roof replacement – $25,000
• Glenwood Springs/Downtown Development Authority, downtown planters – $25,000
• Glenwood Springs Rural Fire Protection District, Opticon project – $19,000
• Town of New Castle, public safety radios – $25,000
• City of Rifle, manhole leveling system – $25,000
• Town of Silt, Stoney Ridge Stadium lighting – $25,000
A joint effort between Colorado Mountain College and Garfield County Libraries to build out the second level of Glenwood Springs’ Cooper Commons building is just the kind of collaboration the Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District likes to see.
So much so that the plan to turn the currently unfinished, 13,000-square-foot area into a flexible meeting, program, classroom, gallery and office space that can accommodate up to 480 people at a time will receive the largest FMLD grant ever in the district’s five-year existence.
“We have been trying to encourage collaborative applications between two or more of our entities that are eligible to receive grants,” Gregg Rippy, president of the Garfield FMLD board, said of the twice-yearly grant cycle.
The joint project put forward by CMC and the Garfield County Public Library District was the first such application they’ve seen, he said.
To reward that effort, the estimated $1.7 million project will receive a $750,000 FMLD grant, one of five traditional grants this spring totaling nearly $1.8 million.
Rippy said the largest single previous grant was around $650,000.
“They are also looking to get started right away, which another thing that we look at in awarding the grants,” he said. “All of the projects funded this spring are shovel-ready.”
The next-largest grant this spring, $400,000, went to the city of Rifle for water treatment plant improvements.
In addition, the city of Glenwood Springs will receive $350,000 in FMLD funding to help complete the relocation of the old Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge to a new location across the Roaring Fork River between Midland Avenue and the city property below Glenwood Springs High School near 14th Street.
An additional $169,000 worth of “mini-grants” were also awarded to Garfield County municipalities, school and fire districts for the spring cycle, Rippy said.
The CMC/Library District project culminates a lengthy planning effort to finish the jointly owned space on the second level above the Glenwood Springs Branch Library that has been vacant since the building was completed in 2013.
“The creation of Cooper Commons is an opportunity unlike any other in the Roaring Fork Valley … for the common use and good of our entire community,” said Linda English, chief financial officer for the college.
Pete Waller, director of facilities for the CMC district, said the concept and design grew out of a series of community focus groups that invited input on how to create a flexible, multiuse space.
The new area will house CMC’s ArtShare program and related art exhibits, and will be able to hold up to 480 people, depending on the configuration. Moveable walls can be used to create different-size rooms for a variety of purposes, “from intimate to theater-style,” Waller said.
The space will also be equipped with a small kitchen and catering area, plus state-of-the-art audio-visual technology that can be used for the college’s distance-learning programs.
“We are excited to be able to bring those plans to life as a result of this grant and bring this value-added space to our community,” Waller said.
In addition to the FMLD grant, the project was also recently awarded a $175,000 matching grant from the Denver-based Boettcher Foundation.
Robin Millyard, public works director for the city of Glenwood Springs, said the FMLD grant for the 14th Street pedestrian bridge will ensure the project’s completion this year, according to a city news release.
The new bridge span across the Roaring Fork River will provide a foot and bicycle connection between the Red Mountain neighborhoods along Midland Avenue to the central part of town, including the high school, the Rio Grande Trail, grocery stores and other amenities.
It will use a section of the former Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge that was recently dismantled to make way for a new pedestrian span that’s part of the larger Highway 82 bridge replacement project.
In addition, the Glenwood Downtown Development Authority will receive a $25,000 mini grant from the FMLD, which it will use to replace and make upgrades to the landscape planters in the downtown area. A total of 65 plastic pots will be replaced with concrete pots, and the 10 planters along Grand Avenue will be refaced.
$15M awarded to date
The Garfield FMLD was created in 2011 and began making grants to local municipalities and districts in 2012, using money that the county receives from mineral leasing on federal lands in the county.
The district received $3.8 million from mineral leasing last year. That was down some from the $5.4 million received in 2014, but up from the $2.2 million in disbursements for 2013, Rippy said.
“Our goal is to grant out what we receive for the year during the following year,” he said.
Due to the downturn in new drilling on federal lands, however, the distribution amount is expected to decline as much as 25 or 30 percent this year, he said.
A total of $1,959,000 in traditional and mini grants were awarded for the spring cycle. A dozen traditional applications were submitted, along with 10 mini-grant applications, Rippy said.
Since the district’s inception, some $15 million worth of grants have been awarded.
The fall 2016 grant cycle will begin in August, with award announcements anticipated in October.
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Fire investigators are still working on determining the cause of Tuesday’s house fire in Glenwood Springs, which left no one injured but caused extensive damage.