Luttrell Barn may stay open, but fee increase likely

The Luttrell Barn used to be Craig's cultural center, offering a host of plays and exhibits. But that scene changed at least five years ago when the group in charge of operations, The Arts and Humanities, pulled out of town.

To balance the 2004 budget, the Moffat County Board of Commissioners yanked operating funds last month for the barn, which sits at the east end of the Moffat County Fairgrounds. It's largely been used for group rentals in the absence of an community organization to support the arts.

Now Fairgrounds Director Bill Sixkiller plans to propose some ideas to keep the facility open, so it can continue to be rented out for events.

Those ideas, along with similar proposals to keep open other county facilities slated for closure, should be coordinated at an upcoming county workshop, commissioners said Monday.

So far, a workshop date hasn't been set.

"We may try to keep the barn open in a modified fashion," said Commissioner Darryl Steele. "We want to keep the barn open without causing us to have to pay money on it."

Budget constraints left commissioners little choice but to scrap operating funds for the Luttrell Barn this year, they said.

In 2003, maintenance and supplies on the barn cost the county $6,600. Last year, it earned back $1,500 in rental use revenue. However, the county spent almost $14,000 in the last few years on repairs to the building. And the barn is in need of new roof which may run the county upwards of $15,000, Sixkiller said.

The barn is normally closed during the winter months to save the high costs of heating it.

Emilyn Young donated use of the barn to the county, but the facility resides on county property. Young attended the commissioner meeting Monday to speak directly with commissioners about their plans for the building. She declined from taking any direction after commissioners expressed a desire to try to keep it open.

According to the legal agreement, if the county vacates the facility, it may go back to Young.

Increasing rental fees on the facility is one way to keep the barn open to the public, Sixkiller said.

Currently the barn rents for $50 a day. Another proposal might be to eliminate the personnel costs of cleaning up after an event.

"I think as long as people know it will be different than it operated before, it may be OK," he said.

In the past, fairgrounds staff of two-full time employees including Sixkiller were responsible for cleaning up after events.

"As far as cleanup, people will be responsible for their own stuff," he said. "It will look just as the last people left it."

Commissioners recently approved fee increases for Shadow Mountain Clubhouse, another county facility poised for closure this spring.

An all-day rental there used to run $50 a day, but was recently increased to $125 a day.

The upcoming workshop should provide proposals to reach parity among all county facilities. County officials and the attending public will also investigate whether nonprofit groups should receive a free or discounted rate to rent county facilities.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@criagdailypress.com.

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