Avon applying for many grants in slow economy | VailDaily.com

Avon applying for many grants in slow economy

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO COlorado
Special to the DailyAn artist's rendering of a bus storage the town of Avon, Colorado would like to build

AVON, Colorado ” The town of Avon, Colorado is applying for as many grants as it can find during a sluggish economy that has slowed the town’s revenues.

Grants for just about anything are available because of federal stimulus money, and the town wants its share. Town Manager Larry Brooks said he has never seen this many grants available nationally.

“We’re trying to frantically apply for everything we can,” he said.

The Westin Riverfront development stalled the construction of its third building, meaning the town’s revenues from that project, mainly property and sales taxes, are on hold. The biggest impact is that the town now has to delay building Main Street.

The 2009 town budget assumes the town’s bank accounts won’t grow ” the perfect time to focus on trying to get whatever free money is out there.

Jenny Strehler, the town’s public works director, has her eyes on funding for a storage building for town and county buses at the town’s Swift Gulch site, north of Interstate 70 and the Avon interchange.

The $25 million Strehler is trying to get would pay for building a joint bus storage facility for both Eagle County’s ECO Transit and Avon Transit. The Colorado Department of Transportation ranked the project high in priority because the buses would be located at a more central part of the county and would reduce traffic along Interstate 70, Strehler said.

The building would include bus storage, administrative offices, a bus wash and re-fueling building, commercial driver’s license training and testing course and storage.

Brooks said the town probably loses about two years of use for every bus because they’re parked outside in sub-freezing temperatures. Sometimes drivers have to show up early to fire up the buses so they can warm up.

“It adds labor hours every day that goes by,” Brooks said. “It costs taxpayers more than it needs to.”

The hybrid buses the town and county buy can cost more than $400,000, which is why Brooks said it’s so important to get as much life out of them as possible.

While this bus facility project is high up on the priority list for the town, Brooks said the town has several applications in the works for other projects. From solar panels for the town’s maintenance facility to a Division of Wildlife grant that would build fishing docks and piers to recreation trail grants, the town is working hard, Brooks said.

“You try to poke and prod at as many different things as you can,” he said.

Strehler said building and improving infrastructure is important because it would be around for generations. She wouldn’t comment on the details of other grant applications because she wants the town to keep its edge over others who might apply for them ” she’s hopeful the town will get some money and be able to build some projects soon.

“Everyone benefits if useful public infrastructure is produced as a result of this economic crisis,” she said.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com

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