With $65,000 from Colorado in hand, the city of Durango can advance two city projects that focus on urban redevelopment and electric vehicle infrastructure at a time when many efforts are stalled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, city officials deferred or scaled back 30 projects planned for 2020 as they tried to come to terms with an unpredictable financial future caused by the pandemic. But not all city projects are delayed. Three grants from the state of Colorado will help further the city’s Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan and its urban renewal authority.
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs awarded Durango $20,000 to cover administrative planning costs for the urban renewal authority – an effort years in the making.
Urban renewal authorities are entities used around Colorado to help municipalities reinvigorate underdeveloped areas. The URAs use a combination of tax financing and public-private partnerships to make development less expensive and less risky.
For example, the city’s URA, called the Durango Renewal Partnership, could support north Main Avenue or Camino del Rio through affordable housing, job creation, mobility and transit, and other development projects.
City staff members presented the URA as an important economic recovery tool for the city in response to the pandemic when Durango City Council approved the entity in May.
“We feel very confident that this is the right tool for our community, especially now as we think about economic recovery and really supporting the community through appropriate investment,” said Scott Shine, Durango planning manager, at the May meeting.
The city’s Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan, which establishes a roadmap for increased electric vehicle adoption, received full funding through grants and partner contributions.
DOLA awarded Durango a $25,000 grant to cover administrative costs for the plan’s development. The Colorado Energy Office also awarded $20,000 to cover consultant costs to develop the plan.
The energy office grant will cover 85% of the consultant fees, which total around $23,500. The project’s partners, the city of Durango Sustainability Program and La Plata Electric Association, will evenly split remaining costs.
“Electric vehicle adoption is something La Plata Electric has no control over. ... People purchase any vehicle they want,” said Dominic May, energy resource program architect at LPEA. “If we do not get ahead of infrastructure, control and setting up programs ... then this can actually become a major burden on our system.”