Office switch means loss of $200,000 grant |

Office switch means loss of $200,000 grant

Jeremy Heiman
Special to the Post Independent

Sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned.

Last month, Garfield County made a deal with the city of Rifle to help build a new baseball field in exchange for a space for its Human Services building at the county fairgrounds.

It seemed like a good idea, but county officials didn’t realize there were other costs involved.

It has turned out that applying for the state grant necessary to complete the county’s Human Services building and Rifle’s ballfield has dried up grant money for another Garfield County project.

County staff learned Monday the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), the state agency that distributes grants for city and county projects, probably won’t provide a $200,000 grant for a riding arena, slated for construction at the fairgrounds this year.

But construction of the riding arena building will go forward this summer, said County Manager Ed Green. The $200,000 to pay for it will come out of the county’s capital fund.

“The capital fund is very strong right now,” Green said.

The county had applied for $200,000 toward completion of the $450,000 riding arena, which will also house the county’s Colorado State University Extension Office and a meeting room for 4-H activities, both now located in a converted apartment building on Rifle’s Taughenbaugh Boulevard.

County human services offices, also in the Taughenbaugh building, were to be moved to a site on Airport Road, about three miles outside of city limits. But Rifle officials and others wanted to keep the Human Services building within the city for the convenience of local residents who use those services.

Two weeks ago, the county accepted a proposal from the Rifle City Council. It called for putting the new county Human Services Department building on the current site of the Cooper Field ballpark at the county fairgrounds, and building a new ballfield at Deerfield Park, a new subdivision in north Rifle where a ballpark was already planned.

Garfield County had applied for $800,000 in DOLA money for the new Human Services building. When the county commissioners agreed to the ballfield deal, they agreed to add $200,000 to that grant application, and to split the $200,000 with Rifle.

Each of the two governments would then pony up $100,000 in grant money toward the $300,000 needed for the first phase of the ballfield construction. And each would put up another $50,000 of their own money.

In exchange, Rifle would cancel another grant the town had pending with DOLA, theoretically ensuring that the extra DOLA money would be available.

But instead, the $200,000 for the riding arena is not going to be available, said County Manager Green. Tim Sarmo, the regional manager of the local affairs office, broke the news to Commissioner Larry McCown last week.

“Changing the location of that building has put us in this bind, plain and simple,” McCown said.

“Because of that additional $200,000 grant, both of us have had to drop other grant requests,” Green said. “It’s turned out to be sort of a shell game.”

Construction on the riding arena ” now funded by the county, without any grant money ” is expected to begin sometime this summer, Green said, but will be suspended during the Garfield County Fair in August. The county met with contractors in a pre-bidding meeting last week.

Contact Jeremy Heiman: 945-8515, ext. 534

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