Housing funds fall through for Roaring Fork schools | AspenTimes.com

Housing funds fall through for Roaring Fork schools

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Department of Local Affairs has denied the Roaring Fork School District a $2 million grant that would have provided the first monetary commitment for the district’s planned affordable housing project in Carbondale.

However, Shannon Pelland, district assistant superintendent of business services, hasn’t yet learned why the district’s application was denied. Understanding the denial is the first step in moving forward, according to Pelland.

“We don’t really know yet. We just found out and have not had a chance to meet with all the concerned parties and figure out where to go from here,” Pelland said. “We are definitely going to have to regroup.”

The setback sends district administration to the drawing board, but hasn’t completely killed the project, according to Pelland.

“We will not give up,” Pelland said. “To say that we are moving forward ” at this point ” would be a stretch, because we don’t have the funds to move forward. But we will keep working at this until we find a way to make it happen, because it’s too important to let it go.”

The district ” headquartered in Glenwood Springs, with schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood ” worked out a land exchange with the town of Carbondale with housing as its goal. The district traded the former Carbondale Elementary School for a 2.7-acre plot near the new Roaring Fork High School. The transaction was completed in October.

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While the district’s request for housing money was denied, the town of Carbondale was awarded $750,000 of a separate, $2 million grant application to the DOLA in December. That application was submitted by both the town and the school district.

The funds will be used for renovations to the old elementary school building, which will house the new Carbondale Community Center, a nonprofit center for local organizations in need of space.

The district intended to also use some of that $2 million grant, along with the other $2 million grant, to pay for some preliminary infrastructure work on the affordable housing project.

“We can’t do everything that was included in the grant application with that amount,” Pelland said.

Pelland said the district has applied for another DOLA grant related to the project, but said she is unsure if that will be awarded in light of the latest denial.

“We really need to talk to the people at DOLA to better understand why they did not award funding because we are not sure if it’s worth resubmitting or not,” Pelland said.

Pelland hopes to speak with DOLA in the first week of January.

jgardner@postindependent.com

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