1st public meeting on new school focuses on roads around Steamboat II (with video)
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — At the first public meeting unveiling progress on the design of the new pre-K through eighth grade school to be constructed in Steamboat II, the majority of the concerns raised were about traffic impacts.
Very few of the attendees — close to 100 — had school-aged children or were prospective parents of children who might one day attend the new school.
After an overview presentation on the design of the new school and other projects, the plan for the audience to disperse into smaller Q & A groups was co-opted by demands for immediate answers in front of the whole group.
“This is $80 million of our money,” shouted one audience member. “What is the life expectancy?”
The architect said it was designed as a “50-year” building.
From there, the questions primarily centered on traffic and the new road infrastructure.
The goals, explained Greg Schroeder of McDowell Engineering, are safety first and, secondly, to move traffic efficiently in and out.
The plan is for the school to pay for a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. Highwat 40 and Routt County Road 42, he said, as required by the Colorado Department of Transportation following a traffic and transportation impact study.
A single-lane roundabout will be built on C.R. 42 to provide access to the school.
People expressed concerns about slowing down and stopping at the stoplight on their way into Steamboat Springs, the impacts of construction traffic and what will happen while the roundabout is being built.
Because there is no alternate route, Schroeder said, they will likely build one half, allow traffic by and then build the other. The other option is to build a temporary bypass road.
Construction on the roundabout will not likely begin until spring 2021, he said.
Erik Griepentrog, an engineer with Landmark Consultants, acknowledged the steep grade on parts of C.R. 42 and described plans to raise the grade about “eight to 10 feet to make it flatter.”
Plans also call for a road to be constructed to connect with Purple Sage Street in the Silver Spur neighborhood.
Neighbors expressed concerns about the snow banks in the winter that cause the road to become a “canyon” with poor visibility.
Griepentrog acknowledged those concerns. In general, he said, they are taking everything into consideration: snow moving and removal, sun exposure and visibility, among other considerations.
Phase 1: Construction start April 2020, completion late 2020
- Strawberry Park Elementary School: Renovate two classrooms for pre-K; add pre-K playground and parking; 3,750-square-foot addition to separate cafeteria and gym; art and music addition; kitchen renovation ($4.3 million)
- Soda Creek Elementary School: 8,000-square-foot addition with four classrooms (two general, two pre-K); removal of four modular classrooms; additional pre-K playground and parking; small break out rooms ($5.3 million)
- Steamboat Springs Middle School: 4,000-square-foot addition including cafeteria expansion; kitchen renovation; science classrooms renovation; required fire lane loop around building; site upgrades for outdoor wellness activities; new artificial turf and track ($5.8 million)
Construction spring 2021 — summer 2022
- Steamboat Springs High School: 9,000-square-foot addition and renovation of existing classrooms ($6 million)
Construction spring 2021 — fall 2021
- North Routt: 5,900-square-foot multi-purpose space and restroom addition ($4.1 million)
Construction summer 2020 — spring 2021
- Yampa Valley High School and Boys and Girls Club of Steamboat Springs: Renovation of schools space, restrooms; renovation of existing pre-K rooms for Boys and Girls Club; security vestibules ($1.5 million)
Asked about why the entrance directly from U.S. 40 to the school is only for emergency vehicles, they noted the second outlet is a fire code requirement. And, allowing the public to use it would require the construction of acceleration lanes on U.S. 40 — and a significant increase in cost.
Also addressed were getting kids from Heritage Park to the new school. While an overpass or underpass would be ideal, it is cost prohibitive, Schroeder said. For now, the best option is to transport kids by bus.
In designing the drop off and pick up area, Schroeder said they used the Strawberry Park Elementary School campus as a case study for what doesn’t work — namely kids having to walk across traffic lanes to get to the entrance. The goal is that once they arrive, they don’t have to cross asphalt.
Designers gave the audience a virtual tour of both the interior and exterior of the $52.5 million, 80,000-square-foot, two-story building. It will contain 30 classrooms, plus space for art and music, with one wing of the school dedicated to pre-K through fifth grade (310 students), and the other to sixth through eighth grades (180 students).
The gymnasium will have a full, high school-sized court, so that all schools can use it for tournaments, explained Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks. Outside, the grounds will have four distinct playgrounds for different age groups.
Some of the design features include an effort to maximize views and the connection to the outdoors and incorporate learning tools within the design.
In terms of a timeline, the design is anticipated to be complete and construction begun during the summer of 2020, breaking ground in May.
Doors will open to students in the fall of 2021.
A principal is anticipated for selection in April and a naming decision in April or May. It isn’t known at this time whether the school will have a focus, such as language immersion or International Baccalaureate — a decision that will likely come after the principal selection.
District officials have also continuously emphasized that the building is intended to have flexibility — so it won’t likely be geared toward something like STEM, which would require a more specific design and facilities.
It is also being built with a space identified for an addition, Meeks said, “if Steamboat continues to grow and we hit capacity.”
Another big piece of the decision making process involves creating district boundaries for the new school and determining who will go to the new school and how those decisions will be made. With the overcrowding of current schools a driving force behind the $79.5 million bond, it isn’t known at this time whether students will be pulled out of existing schools or what that process could look like.
Meeks said they are also working to determine potential bus routes.
All of the presentation information from the design advisory groups can be found at buildingforthefuture.ssk12.org/home
The next public meeting will be held on May 7.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the name of Mark Preuss.