GOCO denies soccer field request | CraigDailyPress.com

GOCO denies soccer field request

Official: Lack of documented support led to rejection of grant application

Collin Smith

— Where there’s demand, there’s resolution.

That’s the Moffat County Commission’s hope for state grants. Although, in one recent case, the Commission felt its proposals went unheard.

The Commission thinks it provided enough evidence of community demand for soccer fields at Loudy-Simpson Park, and its members are frustrated Great Outdoors Colorado did not approve the grant application, Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.

Moffat County applied for $200,000 from GOCO to build two soccer fields on the western side of Loudy-Simpson. The county planned to match more than $168,000, said Tinneal Gerber, county budget analyst.

Tayyara has a history with soccer. He was the youngest person ever to play on the Syrian international soccer team when he was 15, he said. But this project was not for him.

“The demand is there,” Tayyara said. “We promised the people that came to us and wanted this so bad that we would get it done. We’re not doing this because we want something. We’re doing this because of input from the community.

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“I think we have the right to be awarded that money.”

Before pursuing the grant, the Commission heard testimony from about 50 local voices, including representatives of the Craig Youth Soccer Program, El Mexico Soccer, Yampa Valley Soccer League, the Moffat County High School athletics department and Trapper Mine, which agreed to be a partner for the project.

The project would have benefited area children and teens, first and foremost, Tayyara said.

“People enjoy to play, and they can do this instead of getting hooked on smoking and drugs and alcohol,” he said. “Kids run everyday and stay healthy” when they play sports.

The county spends about $500,000 each year, Tayyara added. Going for the GOCO grant was a way to get to a project the county budget couldn’t accommodate.

“We just want to provide services to the community,” Tayyara said. “We would like to milk our budget to get these things, but we can’t.”

Most frustrating was that GOCO staff reviewed the grant application before it was submitted and said everything looked good, and the application was returned without any comments, Tayyara said.

During the application process, grant requests are reviewed by GOCO staff and outside reviewers – in this case, professionals with experience in local parks and recreation, said Chris Leding, GOCO communications director.

Upon reviewing Moffat County’s application, Leding said a big criticism was the lack of documented support from regular residents.

“There was a sense of not enough support from the community,” Leding said. “While a meeting was held with about 50 members of the soccer community, we would like to see more general public input on the desire for the project.”

GOCO staff also wanted more information on how two soccer fields would improve the community, such as statistics about the number of users and whether the fields would have multiple functions or be dedicated soccer fields, Leding said.

In the past, GOCO has contributed to a number of Moffat County projects, including a trail at Loudy-Simpson, the Moffat County Ice Arena, Moffat County Fairgrounds improvements and a project in Maybell, Leding added.

In this case, GOCO expects to work closely with Moffat County if it comes back for another grant cycle.

GOCO will release its final comments to Moffat County soon, Leding said. Applications for GOCO’s next grant cycle were mailed this week.

The GOCO board will review final applications for that cycle in June.

“I have to say this was on the bubble in terms of receiving funding,” Leding said. “A lot of applications are approved the second time around, and that’s kind of a result of us making comments and improving grant applications.

“It is a very competitive grant process for our dollars, and oftentimes, it takes more than one application process to receive grants.”

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com