Maureen Smilkstein: Opposed to Whistler Park school site for 5 reasons
I have lived here 40 years, no longer have children in the school system and do not reside near Whistler Park but am opposed to a school being built in Whistler Park area for the following reasons:
1. This area is a prime habitat for wildlife and is one of the few remaining wetlands in the area. The country is rapidly losing millions of acres of wildlife habitats to environmental disasters as well as development. As a community, we need to look closely at the environmental impact we have and do everything in our power to preserve all the existing open space possible.
2. All future Steamboat area growth, and particularly “affordable” growth, seems to be moving west. The school board already owns 35 acres west of town and will be closing on another 35 acres in June. Why? Unless the school district plans to buy substantially more land in the Whistler area the current 9.2 acres can hardly support a 500-student school.
3. Traffic: Mr. Meeks states that currently four buses transport 40 to 60 student daily from and to the Whistler Park area. If the assumption is that eliminating “busing out” students would decrease traffic, then they have not visited a school during school hours any day of the week. Not only would more buses be bringing kids in and out to school, but you would have the addition of employee, staff and visitor parking as well as the morning and afternoon car parade of parents dropping off and picking up kids.
4. National birth rate has declined for 30 years, and average home prices are upwards of $800,000. Will we need new schools in the future?
5. The projected increase in student population is 358 students over the next 12 years — 2,642 to 3,000 by 2031. Why not explore the possibility of year-round school? This would eliminate the need for any new building by spreading the student population over the entire year. Hire more teachers. Modular class rooms. Suggestions?
Brie Neppl moved here for the same reason the rest of us did “because of all the great things it offers us.” I agree 100 percent. The greatest thing we have, and the thing that sets our community apart, is having the sense of wellbeing and peace provided by nature and our open spaces. Let’s preserve it while we can.
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