City Council FYI: In the know — council and the school district
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Thanks to our community, I was able to serve as an elected member of the Steamboat Springs board of education for 8 years and now am serving on Steamboat Springs City Council.
My experiences on the school board were diverse, and we faced many challenges during that time, specifically the decision to ask the community to fund a new building. It’s difficult to explain the amount of time, energy, ideas, back and forth and give and take to make a decision to do that.
The district is in the process of building for the future and creating a long-term master plan that addresses new facilities. How does the district pick a location? Owning land is a first step, putting out “feelers” for the purchase of land within or outside the city limits needs to be explored as well.
Traffic and demographic studies, soils testing, potential costs and community feedback are just a few of the elements that need to be explored in order to have the list of pros and cons for each location.
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You might do this when purchasing a home, and size, location, cost, etc., are major factors to take into account. Then, the public process goes into high gear to inform all of us, the stakeholders in our community, not only what the locations might be but what it might cost and, most importantly, why it is required for the future. School board meetings, committee meetings and tons of community outreach are a part of that process.
For our city, we as council go through the same process when looking at buildings and growth, but with city-owned land, it is a bit different. The land in our city is zoned to conform to a plan for growth and development and land use requests go through a planning process.
Generally, if a request is made for development, it is reviewed by the planning department and commission before moving on to City Council for approval or denial of the application.
With regard to the school district, the city owns Whistler Park and 28 other park sites across the community. Council and staff cannot make a decision about selling a piece of land that is designated as a city park without first going to the voters. Furthermore, an easement for access through a city park would also need voter approval.
The school district, which already owns a large parcel of property adjacent to Whistler Park, is vetting their privately owned site as a possible location for a new school.
As such, there are lots of rumors that the city is selling the city owned park to the district. Can the city just sell the land? No.
Does the city have any say in the district’s decision to pick a location for a new school? Yes, only in the respect that it must adhere to the codes in place but no, with regard to any personal preferences we might have.
The city and school district have had conversations about the Whistler site and their long-range plans working with the planning department on what might be possible as it relates to traffic, access and many of the “what ifs” associated as a part of the outreach process. This is done to insure there are no surprises after the fact.
As the school district works towards making a decision on the location of a new school, city staff will continue to work with the board’s team to give accurate, updated information to assist them in making an informed decision with the public.
If you have questions, heard rumors or think a comment just doesn’t sound right, please contact a member of City Council, the City Manager, the Parks & Recreation Director, School District staff or a board member to have your questions answered.
Remember, we are all here to serve you.
Robin Crossan is a member of Steamboat Springs City Council.
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