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Letter: Concerns about location of new school’s power line

One recent morning as I sat at the kitchen table enjoying my tea and crumpets, two orange-vested workers appeared outside my window. They began pounding stakes in the ground adjacent to my Steamboat II property, along the boundary with the Steamboat Springs School District parcel. 

Curious about what I might have missed on the site plan for the new pre-K to eighth-grade school, I inquired, “What’s the stake for?” “A new overhead power line,” I was told. Indeed, they had staked a path along the entire border with the Silver Spur and Steamboat II neighborhoods — nearly half a mile. It passes within 50 to 60 feet of several homes.

How could such a plan have been finalized? This power line route was never made public at any meetings, nor to the PK-8 Design Advisory Group. What were those meetings for? New overhead power lines are serious business.

In planning meetings with the school district and their architects, neighbors had been crystal clear: we said over and over in many different ways that the site plan should preserve the character of our neighborhoods and not be overly conspicuous to existing homes. It was stated often that no overhead power lines exist along the streets of Steamboat II or Silver Spur. This is by design, from when Steamboat II was first conceived in the early 1970s, and it makes our neighborhoods unique.

The power lines would also impact the new PK-8 campus. For example, a vast open area for student activities sits north of the school on a large plateau, with expansive views of Mount Werner, Soda Mountain and other peaks and features of the Park Range. Power lines would border this unique landform, becoming a permanent fixture on the northern and western horizons. 

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In Silver Spur, the lines would pass next to the only neighborhood park, which includes a shelter, playground and soccer field. A new sign will say, “No kite flying — HIGH VOLTAGE WIRES.” Impact on property values? Referendum 4C, when we supported you? Something here doesn’t make sense.

This reroute puts power lines as close as possible to as many homes as possible. Yampa Valley Electric Association has confirmed to us there are alternatives, but the decision is not theirs. The school district, as the landowner, will decide. 

Steamboat Springs School District, please work with YVEA to implement a better route for these power lines — one that complements our new school and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Your new students and next-door neighbors will be grateful.

Eric Scherff
Steamboat Springs


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