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Town scrambles to apply for energy impact funds

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Town officials here are scrambling to apply for energy impact funds to help pay for capital improvement projects around town.

The Garfield County commissioners, at their annual meeting with the Board of Trustees in Carbondale on Tuesday, urged the town to get an application in for a newly created funding opportunity.

But the commissioners were careful not to promise that any such funds would be forthcoming right away.



“Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive your funding immediately,” said Commissioner Mike Samson, who sits on the newly created Federal Mineral Lease District [FMLD] board that oversees the distribution of funds.

The FMLD was set up to receive money that is paid to the state by energy companies working on federal land in Colorado.



The funds are meant to offset a variety of impacts felt by communities adjacent to those federal lands. These impacts include construction of roads, municipal facilities and other projects related to population growth connected to the energy industry.

The predominant discussion at the meeting on Tuesday was about upgrades to Highway 133, a long-term planning issue that has involved the town and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Despite that emphasis in the discussion, however, the town appears closer to applying for an FMLD grant to help with Carbondale’s promise to provide up $500,000 worth of infrastructure improvements linked to construction of a new county library branch at Sopris and Third streets.

“We will be going before the county at some point to look for funding on our highway improvements,” said Mayor Stacey Bernot, adding that the request could be either to Garfield County itself or the FMLD, which is independent of the county.

But the town is not ready to make a formal application to the FMLD or the county concerning the highway project, she said.

Bernot explained that there are no highway construction documents to include with the application, and that other aspects of the planning for the highway project are not yet complete.

“In the meantime, to not miss the initial application deadline [May 25], we thought we’d go for our part of the library improvements,” she said. “That’s a project that has all the ducks in a row. We’re not as close on the highway.”

The town has committed up to $500,000 for curb, gutter, street and parking lot improvements associated with the new Garfield County branch library.

If the FMLD does provide funds to cover some of the town’s commitment to the library project, Bernot said, “It could free up money for other capital improvement projects.”

The county commissioners, at Tuesday’s meeting, pointed out that the town leaders of Parachute, Rifle, Silt and New Castle had applied for, and in some cases received county funding for projects in their communities.

“We didn’t go to them. They came to us,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who represents Carbondale. “And that’s what I would expect from Carbondale, too.”

The commissioners explained that there is roughly $1.6 million that the FMLD can hand out in the first funding cycle, and that applications for that first cycle are due by May 25.

There will be a second funding cycle this year, with an application deadline in August, to hand out another $1.6 million in grants.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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