3 options for a new school in Steamboat II presented at community meeting
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Residents west of Steamboat Springs were divided on the issue of a new school in Steamboat II, with some saying their hope is to have a neighborhood school their kids can walk to, while other residents worried a new school next to their homes would cause traffic and light pollution. Some also were concerned about a new school blocking their views of the mountains.
The Steamboat Springs School District is holding a series of community meetings to get feedback on possible new school locations. Superintendent Brad Meeks led the Steamboat II meeting Thursday night at Anchor Way Church.
Several elected school board members also were there to gather community feedback as the school district faces overcrowding.
“No matter where a school goes, it’s going to change the area,” Meeks told the crowd. “One of the things we wanted to do is to understand the issues and mitigate those concerns.”
The school district also is looking at a site on the south side of town next to Whistler Park. The school district bought 9 acres there in 1980 with the intent of eventually building a school. The district is looking at adjacent land to add to the 9 acres. At the Steamboat II site, the district owns 35 acres and plans to buy 9 more adjacent acres by June.
A scientific voter poll published by the school district shows 49% of voters prefer the Steamboat II location over the Whistler location, which got 32% of the vote.
Audience members bandied back and forth on whether their property would appreciate or depreciate, with one young mother reminding residents that the community development plan always called for a school in Steamboat II.
Some of the most disturbed residents were those who had homes backed up to the proposed school. The school district set up large posters at the meeting to show what the property would look like with school buildings, playgrounds, gyms and track fields. The posters showed a pre-K-4 school, a pre-K-8 school and a 5-8 middle school.
Meeks said the majority of district employees would prefer to see a pre-K-8 school because they believe it would have less impact on current grade configurations that they see as beneficial to students.
Architectural and engineering consultants were on hand to discuss the possible impacts to the Steamboat II site and assured the audience that the posters showed only possibilities of how buildings and vehicle entrances and exits would be placed on the property. They told the residents that a design advisory group of neighbors, school officials and experts would actually ferret out the design options once a school is approved and funding is secured.
A few parents from the Whistler area also injected opinions at the Steamboat II meeting. One mother said the number of young students living near Whistler make it a great asset, while another Whistler resident said the school district doesn’t own enough land there to make it viable.
• 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 6, at Bud Werner Memorial Library
• 9 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Soda Creek Elementary School. (Child care provided by Steamboat Babysitting Co.)
Residents from the pro-Steamboat II crowd also reminded the school district representatives that future development is leaning west of town and that a new school there would be the obvious choice.
A traffic study is available for both sites, showing the potential traffic changes. There’s also an engineering study on how many children currently live within a mile of each site. Find those studies and more at buildingforthefuture.ssk12.org.
The potential tax impact for a new school and the updating and remodeling of old schools could be as much as $93 million. That bond package would cost residential taxpayers $26 a month for a $500,000 house. Commercial property worth $500,000 would cost an additional $107 a month.
The next two public meetings on the school search will be at 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 6, at Bud Werner Memorial Library and 9 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at Soda Creek Elementary School.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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