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Paonia trustees move forward on Space to Create

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Photo by Tamie Meck Karen Good, with Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, talks about the nonprofit artist-in-residency program during a "Space to Create" tour of downtown Paonia last fall. Paonia trustees will submit a letter of intent to apply for the program.

The Paonia Board of Trustees has agreed to move forward in supporting efforts to participate in the Colorado Space to Create initiative. STC is a state-driven collaborative designed to develop affordable housing and work spaces for a broad range of artists.

The North Fork Valley Creative Coalition and numerous volunteers have agreed to lead the effort. The program could provide an opportunity for the town to receive a significant amount of financial support to renovate existing properties, said mayor Charles Stewart. "There is indeed support from the community, which would be essential for this to be successful." Participation by the town, which is mandatory for participating in the application process, could mean "significant financial support" for renovation of existing properties, said Stewart.

Delta County Economic Development, local arts organizations and nonprofits, and the Delta County School District are among 12 partners participating in the application process.

The board voted unanimously to submit a letter of intent to apply, with amendments. Towns located within the Region 10 area of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs have a March 1 deadline to submit their intent to apply. If accepted, they will begin the more formal application process.

"This is a way for Paonia and the North Fork Valley to get some business exposure to both private and public resources," said Elaine Brett, one of several volunteers involved in the project. "This has been citizen-driven, but the town needs to be the primary sponsor on it."

Trustees approved up to $35,000 for the initiative in the 2017 budget, but have since determined that funds may have to come from somewhere else in the budget. There will be time to address that issue, since submitting a letter of interest does not bind the town to any financial commitments, said Stewart.

There is a lot of competition for the estimated $45 million, which will be shared among nine communities across the state. Other towns located in the Region 10 area, including Carbondale and Crested Butte, are also considering submitting an application. Once the full application is submitted, said Brett, there would likely be a wait period of six to eight months.

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North Fork
Paonia, Space to Create
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