Board says rent too high
Sticker shock prevented the Oak Creek Town Board from endorsing a request by the Routt County Alternative School that it and the South Routt School District go in together on renting a large building in town. Alternative school officials proposed jointly renting the town’s old parachute factory to be used for alternative school classes during the day and a town recreation center in the evenings.
Under the plan presented at Thursday’s Town Board meeting by school director Don Williams, the town would pay close to $800 a month, and the school district would pay $500, for a total of about $1,300. Those figures assume the rent would be exempt from taxes because the town would rent it.
Although renting the building would benefit both the school and the town, trustees said it would be hard for the town to afford.
“Eight hundred dollars a month is a huge chunk for this town,” Town Trustee Mike Kien said. “We’re not even in the ballpark. It’s not a possibility that we could afford to donate those kinds of funds.”
The plan also brought up another issue the town is addressing: the need for a section of town to be designated as industrial.
The old parachute factory is in an area that has been considered industrial in the past but is not officially designated as an industrial district.
Oak Creek Planning Commission Chairman Gerry Greenwood said that, as an owner of property next to the building in question, he was concerned a school would not be a good fit for the area.
“Why does everybody think the industrial park would be a good place for a school?” Greenwood asked.
Mayor Cargo Rodeman noted that the area is not yet designated as an industrial park and said that a recreation center would be a boon to children and teenagers in the town.
With a new building, Williams said the school would be able to grow. After starting last year, the school now has nine students and just accepted another. Several more are on a waiting list, he said.
The old factory is 3,200 square feet, with an open space perfect for games and movie nights, as well as a smaller room that would work well for computers, Williams said. The last time the building was rented was in 1997.
Using the building as a school and a recreation center would fulfill two needs, Williams said.
“It’s come to our attention that there really is a shortage of things for kids to do in our town, especially productive things,” he said.
At the school, students choose their own curriculum and are guided through it by Williams.
The structure is based on the idea that students naturally learn things that interest them and are relevant to their lives, he said.
Williams said that even if the building doesn’t work out, the school would find a way to expand and help out more students.
“It’s only a minor obstacle,” he said. “It’s nothing that’s going to permanently stop us.”
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