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Met Rec accepting applications for recreation funding grants

Applications due May 31

By Alissa Johnson 

The Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District (Met Rec) will be accepting grant applications this spring for Gunnison Valley recreation projects. The board of directors heard from two Citizen Advisory Committees this month and, using their recommendations, finalized the grant application process. Applications are due May 31.

The committees have been meeting jointly since the March Met Rec meeting to put together a request for proposals (RFP) and a rubric for evaluating applicants. Laura Puckett Daniels, a representative from the north valley committee, explained that they focused on communicating Met Rec values and goals.

“Our goal was to keep it precise and make it a smooth process that is transparent and user friendly for both the applicants and the reviewers of the applications,” she said.

Hedda Peterson, a representative from the south valley committee, added that in doing so the committees referenced the grant application processes for both Great Outdoors Colorado and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “They both have very professional, well-administered grant application processes that we felt overlapped with Met Rec’s mission.”

The board of directors was impressed with the thought process that went into the RFP, but did begin to discuss whether capital projects should be prioritized over operating expenses.

“I would rather see a higher priority on durable projects, like construction, maintenance, repair,” said board chair Dave Clayton. He felt that funding things like coaching positions for sports teams could cause organizations to develop a dependence on the grant cycle for ongoing operating costs, when continued funding cannot be guaranteed.

While the comment did initiate some discussion among board members and the committees, the issue was ultimately tabled because two Gunnison board members, Larry Parachini and Paul Wayne Foreman, were not present.

“Presumably five people will be making the decision,” said board member Ian Billick, “and two are not here tonight to provide direction.”

The three members present, including Clayton, Billick and Derrick Nehrenberg, ultimately directed the committees to add a few points to the RFP: a question to determine whether the applicant could use or accept less than the full amount of requested funds, a notice that capital projects may be prioritized over operating expenses, and the clarification that funding this year does not guarantee future funding.

Applications received by May 31 will be reviewed and prioritized by the Citizen Advisory Committees under the facilitation of Nehrenberg. Because some committee members work for organizations that will apply for grants, they agreed to recuse themselves from the discussion when their organization is being reviewed. 

In addition, the Met Rec board voted to give $10,000 from the $100,000 of available funds to the Gunnison Stewardship Program. Doing so gives Met Rec a seat at that table, which seeks to leverage local dollars for outside funds.

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