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Tuolumne County Hoping To Receive Grants For Columbia Community Resilience Center

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Columbia, CA — Government leaders in Tuolumne County are hoping that grant money will arrive to turn the old Armory building in Columbia into a community resilience center.

The county has existing CRCs in Tuolumne and Groveland because of grant money that was awarded in response to the 2013 Rim Fire.

The dilapidated facility in Columbia is located on Airport Road. After holding community meetings on the proposal, the county would focus the potential Columbia CRC’s activities around fitness, wellness, and health (in addition to being an evacuation site).

Tuolumne County’s Capital Projects Director, Maureen Frank, elaborated, “We don’t have any open gyms in the whole county (currently). If we want to put on a recreational program, for example, or a league, or do a tournament, Tuolumne County Recreation is having to go out and rent space.”

Back in February, the county submitted a $14.2 million grant request to the California Department of Food and Agriculture and anticipates to hear later this month if the county will receive an award. In addition, the board of supervisors voted 4-0 this week to send a second grant request, for the maximum amount allowed ($10-million), to the California Strategic Growth Council’s Community Resilience Center Grant Program.

Frank noted that if both grant requests are approved, it could allow for an expanded project in Columbia. But, if only the $10-million grant is awarded, the county would have seek additional funding, as the overall project is anticipated to cost around $14.2 million.

Supervisor David Goldemberg was absent and did not vote on the latest grant request. The other supervisors were in favor. District Three Supervisor Anaiah Kirk, however, stressed that there needs to be a strong operational plan if the state funding is approved. He noted that the existing CRCs are costing around $40,000 annually, each, to operate, when the county had initially hoped that they would be a revenue generator, or at least cost-neutral, through community partnerships and rental agreements. CAO Tracie Riggs stated that the funding projections changed after the board of supervisors decided to reduce the rental fees for the CRCs.

Most recently, up until 2020, the Columbia Armory building was used as the Mountain People’s Organics farmer’s market. It has heavily chipping paint, water damage, roof issues, windows in need of repair, H Vac problems, and asbestos issues.

  • Columbia Armory Facility