Carbondale ball fields plan shelved after matching funds strike out
CARBONDALE – A plan to seek a major state grant for new outdoor sports facilities in Carbondale will have to wait, after the Roaring Fork School District indicated this week that it will not be able to come up with enough matching funds.”We decided now is not the time for the town to go it alone,” Carbondale Recreation Director Jeff Jackel said Friday. “It’s not like GOCO [Great Outdoors Colorado] money is getting away from us. There are funding cycles in March and August that we can consider.”However, the money available through those grants is somewhat less than the $700,000 the town, in partnership with the school district, would have applied for under GOCO’s Local Parks & Outdoor Recreation program. The large grant program only comes around every four years, Jackel said.Carbondale’s Town Council had tentatively agreed to put $150,000 toward a proposed $296,000 match for the grant proposal.If successful, it would have paid for a variety of new and reconfigured athletic fields at three school sites in Carbondale and at the town’s North Face Park, plus new tennis courts and a pedestrian/bike trail connecting the facilities.”We were really hoping to partner with the school district,” Jackel said. “One of the things GOCO likes to see with these proposals is a local partnership. Lacking that, we wouldn’t have had as good a chance.”Re-1 Assistant Superintendent of Business Shannon Pelland outlined some possible funding options for the school board at its Wednesday meeting. However, given other capital needs in the school district, and a bleak budget outlook for next year in general, she recommended not partnering for the grant.”I do like to be able to leverage these kinds of funds when we can,” she said.But, “We’re looking at about $2.6 million in state budget cuts for next year. It’s just a tough time for us to be doing this,” Pelland said.The school district has about $200,000 in un-allocated capital reserve funds, she added. But that money will be needed for some school roof repairs and a variety of other projects.”That’s the only cushion we have for anything that might go wrong,” she said.Newly appointed school board President Bob Johnson said he would worry about the public perception if the district were to agree to help fund ball fields at a time when the budget is tight.”Public perception is a big issue for me,” he said. “I would have a hard time doing this.”The total project cost was estimated at about $988,000, Jackel said.The idea first came about when the school district began planning for replacement of the existing athletic field between the Third Street Center (former Carbondale Elementary School) and the Bridges Center, where an affordable teacher housing project is being planned.The new Roaring Fork High School was completed a few years ago, but most of the open land around it remains undeveloped. Re-1 then hired Rich Camp Landscape Architects of Carbondale for $9,000 to develop the Carbondale Sports Complex Master Plan.That plan is still valid for future grant requests, Jackel said.Most of the new fields would be on school district land, however, so a partnership of some sort with the school district will still be email@example.com
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