San Luis lands over $725k in grants

Photo by John Waters The San Luis Museum and Cultural Center was constructed in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The building became the San Luis Institute of Arts and Crafts, a branch of Adams State College. After World War II, it was converted to the Centennial High School. In 1980, a $1 million federal project remodeled and expanded the old high school into a cultural center. The town recently received $725,000 in grants for a Town Plaza.

COSTILLA COUNTY — The Town of San Luis has been awarded $544,777 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and $181,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation to improve its Town Plaza.

Town Clerk Teddy Leinbach said of the project, "The plaza is just north of the Town Hall…with this grant, we are going to take out a few trees, redo all the pavement, and make this a much nicer space to enjoy, visitors will be able to enjoy it after walking the Stations of the Cross. This will be a hub for all of our events, Santana, and Founders Day. We will have pavilions, a fountain, lots of greenery, and spaces for food trucks and other vendors. We envision it to be a focal point of our Main Street."

Leinbach said while there is not yet a specific date for the groundbreaking, he is hopeful it will be within a month or so.

"Susan Sanderford (Town Manager) has been working on this grant for about five years, Covid delayed it a lot. She came up with this, there has been planning and community input and the writing of the grants to get it implemented and constructed," said Leinbach.

The Town of San Luis has also recently received a federal $500,000 — Environmental Protection Agency (EPA funded through the bipartisan infrastructure law. The funds are all revitalization-focused, with projects ranging from the removal of asbestos, mercury, and other hazardous materials.

EPA officials were in San Luis last month and in an interview with the Valley Courier, EPA Regional administrator KC Becker said the grant was made possible by working with grant facilitator JSI International, "This is a great thing, they have to handle the burden of all the federal compliance. For these small grants, it is hard to apply, you need a full-time person to do the paperwork. With this, you can reach smaller communities. I love it, we can get dollars all over the place."

San Luis is experiencing a renascence, since 2011, the non-profit Acequia Institute has received over $3 million in grants to finance the San Luis Food Sovereignty Initiative to acquire the R&R Market in San Luis, finance farm equipment, conduct outdoor education and other projects.

Regarding the economic benefit the restoration of the R&R Market will have, Town Manager Sanderford said, "This is really important, it is the heart of our downtown. This has been the gathering place for locals, so it is really important we get this up and going. We are supportive and will do whatever the Town can do to get this functioning again."

Sanderford has been successful in obtaining other grants including those from the Gates Family Foundation and the Colorado Health Foundation.