DEL NORTE- After several meetings in the last few weeks, the Friends of Ski Hi met with Rio Grande County Commissioners on the last day of the year and were finally awarded $150,000 for the Ski Hi Recreational Facility project from the county’s conservation trust fund.
According to previous reports, and a handout provided during the meeting, the Friends of Ski Hi are working with the City of Monte Vista and its residents to build a multiuse facility that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. The proposed project would include meeting space, conference space for events such as the annual Crane Festival and Ski Hi Stampede, as well as, basketball and volleyball courts that would be open for public use.
In previous meetings, both Commissioner Susanne Bothell and John Noffsker voiced concerns about the need for the project and whether or not it qualified for the conservation trust funds due to the fact that funds could only be used for recreationally based projects. Noffsker continued to state those concerns during the meeting Dec. 31. Stating that though he felt uncertain about whether or not the project is eligible for conservation trust fund monies, one of his main concerns remained on how the Town of Monte Vista planned on affording the upkeep and maintenance of the building once it was completed.
“The issue we run into, as it stands, the project is so complex and intertwined that it is hard to distinguish what is conservation trust fund eligible and what is not,” stated Noffsker. “I would be more comfortable supporting this project if number one, we are not building a bridge to nowhere. And two that there is a viable operating financial plan going forward. I am looking for reasons to say that this is a good viable project.”
Noffsker continued to speak to the attending Friends of Ski Hi stating that he would like to approve the funding for the project in the amount of $150,000 but with the stipulation that the county would be reimbursed the funding should the grant applications be denied and also that there would be a committee of people that would ensure the building was maintained in the future.
Kathy Woods, the representative for the Friends of Ski Hi stated that they would be more than willing to involve the county in further decisions, make sure that the funding was reimbursed to the county should it not be used for grant matching funds and that a viable economic plan would be put in place by an overseeing committee to ensure the building was maintained in the future.
It was during that time in the meeting that Commissioners Gene Glover made a motion to approve the letter of commitment from the county to the City of Monte Vista for the total $150,000 request which was seconded by Noffsker and passed unanimously by the rest of the board.