Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Met Rec awards six figures in local recreation grants

Protecting TV while enhancing recreation

By Mark Reaman

The Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District last week allocated $135,000 in recreation funding to various groups in the county. The Met Rec board has been upgrading its television service while also trying to increase money and assistance for regional recreation projects.

At its May meeting the Met Rec board of directors allocated $115,000 as part of its 2020 grant program. A separate $10,000 contribution was made to the Gunnison Stewardship Fund and another $10,000 was set aside to start a Met Rec recreation Reserve Fund.

According to Met Rec district manager Hedda Peterson, “To better support the district’s dual mission, we would like to transition our budget to allocate more towards recreation than has been historically. In the past, the majority of the budget has supported television,” she explained.

Peterson said the district has established two grant programs: the Developed Recreation program and the Community Collaboration program. “The goals of the Developed Recreation grant program are to help catalyze the development of recreation amenities that meet valley-wide recreation needs, support responsible implementation of recreation amenities, and leverage funding from outside Gunnison County to support recreation,” she said. “We received six Developed Recreation grant applications totaling $156,788 in requests.”

Peterson said the Community Collaboration grant program “seeks to promote quality recreation amenities and sustainable programming for the district’s service area, encourage efforts that reduce local barriers to recreation faced by youth, elderly and underserved communities, keep recreational programs and services diverse and affordable and support collaborative initiatives that achieve solutions needed by the entire valley. We received 22 Community Collaboration grant applications totaling $145,720.”

The board allocated $80,000 to the Developed Recreation grant program and $35,000 to the Community Collaboration grant program. “With more than $300,000 in funding requests, the review committee was tasked with making difficult decisions. Many applicants are responding to far-reaching economic shortfalls and are working to develop creative solutions that enable them and their participants to benefit from continued recreation programming and amenities,” Peterson said.

“We looked for strong alignment with Met Rec’s nascent Recreation Strategic Plan,” Peterson continued. “Many requests aligned with the Plan’s ‘Access to Recreation’ focus area. Several applicants sought funding for program scholarships or the ability to provide free or low-cost equipment for participants. When assessing the requests for scholarship funding, the review committee took into account the cost per scholarship and length of provided programming. Also considered was the applicant’s effort and ability to reach underserved communities.”

Peterson said another component of the Recreation Strategic Plan considered was outdoor recreation needs that fall outside of the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) committee’s scope. She said a handful of strong applications were reviewed in which funding was requested for outdoor recreation stewardship needs. “However, given Met Rec’s desire to support those needs via its leveraged contribution to the Gunnison Stewardship Fund we prioritized supporting alternative outdoor recreation needs,” she said.

Other donations of note include a $45,000 grant to Gunnison County for the Shady Island Park Project; a $30,000 contribution to the town of Crested Butte for its Big Mine Ice Arena Changing Room project; $5,000 to the city of Gunnison’s Parks and Recreation Scholarship Fund; and $6,000 to Gunnison Nordic for grooming equipment needed to maintain their free trail network.

Meanwhile, on the television side, the board has allocated $110,000 toward capital outlay to upgrade its translator system this year. This is in addition to the system’s annual operating costs of approximately $155,500. The general idea is to continue implementing improvements from the system’s hub in Gunnison, outwards to the more remote sites to enhance system reliability.

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