Letter: Vote for history
I represent the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program and have been working with the seven Garfield County heritage organizations that will drive the public benefits of Ballot Initiative 1A. My work has taken place with these organizations and the board of county commissioners since 2010.
The current initiative in front of Garfield County voters is modeled after the 2004 Routt County Museum and Heritage Fund. To date, the citizens of Routt County have contributed almost $5 million to the fund through their voter-approved mill levy. Voters were asked to first approve the funding mechanism, just as 1A requests. Once the ballot initiative was approved, the implementation of both the museum support formula and the competitive grant program framework were developed by the advisory board and the Routt County Commission.
The proposed countywide structure is more transparent and is superior to the special district model that was initially considered. Initiative 1A, as it is designed, provides a framework for seamless oversight and accountability for the use of these public funds.
The Routt County program has invested nearly $5 million in preservation and cultural programming since 2004. It has leveraged those funds for grants and private investment matches. A recent $1.2 million project to restore and repurpose an historic building such as the town hall, visitor center and interpretive center is particularly compelling. The county heritage fund invested just $25,000, and leveraged partnership and preservation grant monies for the $1.175 million balance of this infrastructure project.
In Garfield County as in Routt County, maintaining authenticity of the valued artifacts and archives of each individual community and organization is paramount. This countywide model gives each of the seven organizations parity. Then, this model provides the opportunity to collectively promote these authentic assets as an essential element of the growing cultural/heritage tourism sector in Garfield County.
The relatively small investment from 1A has the potential to realize new revenue sources, partnerships, economic stimulation through community development and preservation projects — and above all, make cultural heritage a sustainable, robust part of the vital tourism industry of Garfield County.
Vote yes on 1A. It’s a model for success.
Nancy B. Kramer
Program coordinator, NW Colorado Cultural Heritage