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Recreation board receives unusually high number of grant applications

Feb 5, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The City of Riverton is among the applicants, requesting $80,000 for a "green space" downtown.

The amount of money recently requested by the City of Riverton and other applicants to the Fremont County School District 25 Recreation Board came as a surprise for some.

Lars Flanagan, former president of the recreation board, said he hadn't seen such a high number of applications in years.

The amount of money requested also was a surprise.

"That's the first time in five years I've seen that much requested," said Fremont County School District 25 Board of Trustees clerk Glenn Ogg at a recent board meeting.

The recreation board will announce in February which applications were approved, and the amount approved may not be what was initially requested.

The City of Riverton was among the applicants in January. Mayor Ron Warpness applied for an $80,000 grant for the purpose of helping with the costs of turning the vacant lot at 422 E. Main St. into a "green space" that was voted on Nov. 20 by the mayor and city council.

The city hasn't confirmed the exact design of the green space nor, if approved, what exactly the grant money will go toward. In the application, the city did have to provide a general idea to the board and state how many and in what way people will benefit from the project.

The board stated in its guidelines that grantees have until the end of the year to spend the amount granted otherwise it will be taken back.

At the regular city council meeting Jan. 15, councilman Richard Gard said he didn't think the money requested, if fully approved, would be spent by the city by the end of year as required by the board. He said it would've been better if that money had been requested by a different organization or program.

"I personally don't think it's a good idea to spend (recreation board) funds for a park," Gard said.

He added that he also would have preferred to give the public the chance to vote on whether the city should or should not apply for the grant from the recreation board.

Board president Lee Martinez explained to the council that the date required to use the funds can be extended with good reason under certain circumstances. Gard proposed a resolution so the council could vote if they were OK with applying for the grant, but it was later disregarded because the grant application had already been turned in to the board.

Councilman Jonathan Faubion said when he sat on the board, some came to the board and asked to retract or change their application. Gard later suggested the council vote in the future on the amenities listed in the grant application, which included a gazebo and restrooms.

City administrator Steven Weaver told the council that once funds are secured, more detailed and concrete plans are expected to be presented. He also reminded the council that city staff recommended they come to an agreement on the use of the vacant lot so they could begin applying for possible assistance.

"That's the only way we can move forward," Weaver said.

"If you don't make the request at the appropriate time then you get to wait and try again in a year." Faubion said.

Warpness said he hoped to get the needed public and financial support so the project could get going.

"I know that there's a difference in opinion in what we should be doing with that property," Warpness said. "But we ought to move forward -- If you don't ask, you don't get."

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