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Cortez teams up with Inspire Coalition to secure GOCO grant

Parks and Recreation, nonprofits submit joint proposal
Cortez City Park, where Parks and Recreation Director Dean Palmquist hopes to use part of a GOCO grant to upgrade playground equipment.

The Cortez Parks and Recreation Department, along with more than a dozen other organizations that make up the Montezuma Inspire Coalition, is about to submit its first joint application for state funding.

The Coalition, one of several of its kind in the state, is made up of 18 nonprofits and local government agencies related to outdoor recreation. It was awarded a $75,000 planning grant in July of 2016 to put together a joint application for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant that would fund a variety of large projects the member groups want to implement. At the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Advisory Board meeting on Friday, Director Dean Palmquist presented a list of Inspire member organizations that have pledged matching funds for the grant, which will be submitted along with the draft application on June 26.

In addition to Parks and Recreation, the organizations in the Inspire Coalition include San Juan Mountains Association, the Piñon Project, the Cortez Cultural Center, High Desert DEVO, the Southwest Conservation Corps, the Dolores Library and many others. Over the last several months, each of them has put together a proposal for a different project for which they’ll need state money. The matching funds they’ve proposed so far add up to almost $3 million total. The Montezuma Land Conservancy, the Coalition’s fiscal agent, will put all the proposals together into one draft application. After getting feedback from Great Outdoors Colorado, they’ll have about a month to make changes to the application before the final deadline at the end of July.

If the grant is awarded, Cortez Parks and Recreation will use its portion of the money to replace the playground equipment at City Park and to fund field trips for families in the community. The department has pledged a maximum of $18,680 in matching funds for the field trips and $321,012 for the playground. Most of the other organizations plan to use the grant for youth programs like School to Farm, or maintenance for places like Hawkins Preserve.

This is the city’s first year working with Inspire on a grant application, and members of the advisory board said it’s been an eye-opening experience.

“I didn’t know there were so many groups involved,” Bob Archibeque said. “Being an educator, I think it’s very important that we get kids motivated to be outside...I think it’s just a great program.”

Palmquist said there’s no guarantee that all the projects will get funded. Even though all the proposals will be submitted at once, GOCO could choose to fund just a few of them. It’s also not certain how much money would be available for the grant, so each organization will submit two proposed grant amounts: one that would match 100 percent of their project budget and one that would just cover 50 percent. It’ll be up to GOCO to choose which amount to give, if any.

Still, Palmquist said he’s optimistic, especially since he believes the Montezuma coalition is the only one in the state with a land conservancy operating on their behalf.

“I think we’ve got a good shot at getting funded,” he said.

He and the rest of the Coalition will find out this fall. If the grant is approved, most of the organizations’ projects will be implemented next year.

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