By winning a single grant, the Montrose Recreation Foundation reached about one-third of its capital campaign for enhancing the future community recreation center.

The foundation received a $500,000 award from the Daniels Fund — the largest given by the fund in Western Colorado, said Ken Sherbenou, executive director for the Montrose Recreation District.

The funding puts the Montrose Recreation Foundation well on its way to raising an additional $1.6 million that will give the coming rec center more bells and whistles.

“We’re really overjoyed we got such a big nod from the foundation that is one of the core pillars of nonprofits in Colorado,” Sherbenou said on Thursday. “It’s a great day for Montrose.”

“We admire the effort this community has made to develop a center that will house recreational, health and social activities for citizens of all ages,” Daniels Fund CEO Linda Childears said in a statement included in the Montrose Recreation Foundation’s news release.

“We’re very excited. It’s a huge step forward for us toward achieving our goals and reaching our enhanced plans,” said Lori Sharp, Montrose Recreation Foundation president. “We’re through the moon.”

The rec district is on track to build a community recreation center, after voters passed a sales tax increase earlier this year. The $1.6 million capital campaign is money in addition to, and separate from, sales tax revenues.

“The tax that we passed will pay for a fabulous center,” said Sharp. “We identified some areas of opportunity that we would like to build in initial construction that would make the center better and help us expand offerings for the community.”

The regular plan for the rec center, to be funded by the tax, includes a walk/jog track, warm water leisure pool, lazy river, therapy pool and spa, lap pool, fitness area with weights and cardio, two multi-court gyms, community room, indoor playground and family game room, climbing wall, child watch, locker rooms and other amenities.

The enhanced plan, to be funded by the capital campaign, would add a third middle school court in the gym, three more lap lanes, double the size of the walking track, and add a therapy clinic.

A bigger gym and lap pool would increase capacity for the public while still allowing for special events. The walking track would include a hill course, ramping up fitness opportunities, while the therapy clinic would allow for both wet and dry therapy in a single location.

“That is what we’re raising the money for,” Sharp said. “The Daniels Fund in the past has awarded more in the realm of $50,000 to rec centers. When we started talking to them, they were very impressed with the plan that we have, and the community support that we have.”

She added: “They suggested we apply for a much larger grant and we did, and we received it. To have an award of $500,000 is incredible. It’s something that’s really going to help us get to that $1.6 million and be able to realize the enhanced plan.”

Montrose received more than a significant grant award, Sharp said.

“It’s also a huge vote of confidence for Daniels to invest in our community at this level.”

Sherbenou said he takes the grant as an endorsement of the rec center project — and proof that rec center backers are keeping their word to voters.

“I really want the community to understand this was part of our plan. We did a lot of due diligence in every regard we could think of and one (way) was trying to bring in grants from outside the community,” he said.

“It was promised that we would approach entities like the Daniels Fund, that really believe in rec centers and know the positive impacts they have on communities.”

Sherbenou and Sharp indicated that the “yes” vote on the rec center sales tax measure shows grantors such as Daniels Fund that there is community buy-in.

“I want to extend gratitude to the community for approving the sales tax increase,” Sherbenou said.

“We’re doing everything we can to leverage that and make this project as successful and beneficial for Montrose as we can. This grant was so critical.”

The rec foundation has also raised $72,000 locally toward the $1.6 million capital campaign, with contributions from such businesses and organizations as Alpine Bank, LiveWell Montrose Olathe (which through Dec. 31 is matching donations up to $5,000, total) and Montrose Rotary.

Other grant applications are pending, and individuals are also welcome to contribute. Those contributing $100 or more will be recognized by having their names placed on the donor wall at the new center.

“Local support is important as well as these grants and the local support helps us get the support from outside the community,” Sharp said.

The rec center has been in design development since June; a public meeting is planned in December, at which the regular and enhanced plans are to be presented.

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