Courier staff writer
MONTE VISTA — Rio Grande County leadership is moving renovations forward at the Ski Hi Park Complex in Monte Vista.
Rio Grande County commissioner and San Luis Valley Fair Board (SLVFB) representative Karla Shriver brought the Saguache County commissioners up to speed on the changes Tuesday during a work session, and asked if they could pitch in to help pay for the finishing touches. The SLVFB is only four percent away from meeting their roughly $300,000 funding goal, and is asking Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral and Saguache Counties to help with the remaining $9,750 through conservation trust monies.
The Great Outdoors Colorado (GoCo) grant program is funding the majority of the renovations that include a pavilion ($160,000) that will replace the livestock tent, portable grandstands ($45,765) and a new sound system and signage ($26,000). The grant program is providing $180,000, 67 percent of the budget, and Rio Grande County is providing $70,000 in cash, 26 percent, and a $2,440 in-kind donation for road work. Civic groups have donated $2,350 in cash, San Luis Valley Ski Hi Stampede has donated $2,500 and the City of Monte Vista has waived a $2,440 water tap fee to keep the project in motion.
Rally in the Valley, an annual City of Monte Vista fundraiser, is paying for the sound system and signage, an element of the grant request that GoCo did not sponsor.
Shriver explained that asking the Valley counties to pitch in keeps Ski Hi part of every community.
“It solidifies it is a Valley complex,” she said. “It would behoove the county to help support its constituents.”
Although she did not mention what the SLVFB would ask of the other counties, she requested between $1,000 and $3,000 from Saguache County’s 2012 or 2013 budget after sharing its citizens’ regular park complex use. About eight percent of San Luis Valley Regional Fair exhibitors come from Saguache County, 19 percent of Little Britches Rodeo contestants and 20 percent of Stampede participants. Alamosa County has 33 percent of fair exhibitors, 41 percent of rodeo contestants and 34 percent of Stampede participants; Costilla County 1 percent, 0 percent and 5 percent; Mineral County 3 percent, 5 percent and 2 percent, Rio Grande County 31 percent, 13 percent and 17 percent and Conejos County contributes 22 percent to each event.
“This is a regular use facility utilized by residents throughout the San Luis Valley,” Shriver said. “And in the winter months, there is the potato and grain conference. There are more than 3,000 people.”
She added other events that attract people to the park complex include Youth Farm Safety Day, 375 plus attendees and volunteers, the High School Rodeo, 750 plus attendees and volunteers and the home and garden show, 7,500 attendees, which could take advantage of the renovations.
The renovations, which should be complete before the 2013 fair in August, are taking place for several reasons including creating larger spaces, a safer environment, a more user friendly, professional and cost effective space, a more hygienic livestock area and to bring the portable grandstand system to the Valley.
Shriver said the tent under an annual rental contract is 40 feet by 100 feet, costs between $2,700 and $3,000 a year and it is no longer getting the job done. The pavilion is shaping up to be 100 feet by 100 feet, which would allow for an additional fair show ring and a space for agriculture exhibitors to store their equipment and machinery during the winter events.
A wash rack ($7,080) and panels ($15,525) will also be a part of the pavilion, making it rodeo compliant, and the structure will also alleviate some insurance concerns. She said that when the tent was last broken down, a gas line ruptured when the stakes were being removed from the ground.
“The insurance company was not too happy with that,” Shriver said.
The three portable grandstands will accommodate 100 spectators and could improve many Valley events, she added.
“How we envision this asset is that it would be available for all six counties in the Valley,” Shriver said. “We would get a lot of use out of it.”
The commissioners did not make a decision on the funding request on Tuesday, but did speak highly of the project.
“We try to support the fair as much as we can and we like to use these (conservation trust) funds for that,” said Saguache County commissioner Sam Pace.
“It is a perfect use of the conservation trust funds,” agreed Saguache County commissioner Linda Joseph.