Funds improve for water, sewer

MEEKER I Funding for the multi-agency project to extend the Meeker water and sewer line to the new Pioneers Medical Center site and Curtis Creek area on Meeker Terrace is rapidly nearing the point of full funding commitment, the Rio Blanco County Economic Stakeholders announced last week.
The project is expected to cost roughly $5 million, and as of last week the stakeholders group had received unofficial commitments of roughly $4,985,000, board members announced.
The unofficial commitments include $2 million from Pioneers Medical Center, $1.3 million from Rio Blanco County, $1 million from a Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant, $350,000 from the Town of Meeker, $250,000 from the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District, $50,000 from area landowners, $20,000-$25,000 from the Meeker Sanitation District and $15,000 from the Meeker Cemetery District.
The $1.3 million in funding from Rio Blanco County is what the county hopes to contribute toward the project. County Administrator Kimberly Bullen explained that the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners cannot allocate funds it does not yet have and that the funding is likely to become available in August.
The $1 million in DOLA grant funding is also pending. Bullen explained that the grant application has not yet been submitted and that the grant funding is not a certainty since it “should be quite a competitive process because several entities are expected to vie for the available DOLA funds.”
DOLA has several million dollars available for statewide projects, but the water/sewer project to Curtis Creek is just one of many statewide projects seeking the state funds. The grant request must be submitted by April 1.
Ken Harmon, the chief executive officer of Pioneers Medical Center, is impressed with how all the agencies involved have joined in the project.
“The key to this entire project has been a large number of entities coming together,” he said. “This project would probably not be much farther off the ground now than it was 20 years ago if it wasn’t for all of these groups taking part.”
The concept began 30 to 40 years ago, when Dr. Gene Berry and the Meeker Terrace Group bought the land, Harmon said, adding that the group later approached several public entities to see if any of them needed land.
“The project has been a long time coming, but we are finally beginning to see the light,” he said. “Everyone gains through this project, not just the hospital.
“This project will allow for expanded availability for sewer and water at a cheaper cost than it would have been if we had waited until the need was desperate,” Harmon said. “Those businesses around the new hospital site will have the chance to hook onto sewer and water lines, and surrounding land along Curtis Creek will become more attractive to new businesses looking to move or expand into the area.”
Davis Parker & Associates has been hired to draft the design for the project, Harmon said. That firm will draw up the schematics, develop the plan and come up with the final design — hopefully by sometime this fall, he said.
“This project will not only fill Pioneers Medical Center’s immediate plans to build its new hospital but will also allow for easy expansion of the hospital in the future,” Harmon said. “It should also really help with developing the corridor from the existing line out to Meeker Terrace and Curtis Creek and could also assist efforts for annexation in the area.”