RFSD reassessing funding options for Carbondale housing project | PostIndependent.com

RFSD reassessing funding options for Carbondale housing project

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Roaring Fork School District has withdrawn a second state grant application for money to kick-start an affordable teacher housing project in Carbondale.

“The same issues that were raised in the rejection of our first application are likely to still be there,” RFSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Shannon Pelland said at the Jan. 14 school board meeting.

District officials will regroup and consider the options, but could again apply for Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) funds during the spring grant cycle, she said.

The district had applied jointly with the town of Carbondale for a $2 million DOLA grant to help fund both the town’s efforts to convert the old elementary school building on Third Street into a community nonprofits center, as well as to do some preliminary infrastructure work on the neighboring site related to the proposed housing development.

An additional $2 million grant application submitted separately by the school district was also intended to go toward the site work and preliminary planning efforts.

The town was awarded $750,000 as part of the joint application for the nonprofits center, formally called the Third Street Center. However, it was unclear whether some of that money could be used by the school district for general site work.

“The primary focus (of the grant) is to get the nonprofits center up and running,” RFSD Board of Education President Michael Bair said at last week’s board meeting.

Meanwhile, district officials don’t want to put off further planning on the housing project for too long.

And, the economic downturn could actually work to the school district’s advantage.

“There is some urgency in that there are contractors out there looking for work, and this could be a good time to proceed,” school board member Myles Rovig said.

Pelland said she has also gotten some pressure from local contractors for the district to start small, and maybe phase the project over a number of years.

There may also be additional funding sources available as part of the federal economic stimulus money that’s expected to be coming out of Washington.

So-called “shovel ready” projects are the ones most likely to receive such funding, Pelland said.

The teacher housing project started with a land exchange between the school district and the town of Carbondale, which put the old Carbondale Elementary School in the town’s hands and gave the school district a 2.7-acre plot near the new Roaring Fork High School. That transaction was completed last October.

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