Steamboat district enters contract to purchase 35 acres west of Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs School Board voted unanimously Monday night to enter into a contract to purchase an additional 35.91 acres west of Steamboat, doubling the size of the district’s existing piece of property next to Steamboat II.
The vote is “forward thinking” on the part of the board, said Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks. “It gives the district a lot of options for future generations.”
It’s also a unique opportunity to acquire land adjacent to land the district already owns, he said.
The property is owned by the Mary M. Barber Spousal Trust and has been in the Barber family for decades.
With an initial offer of $1.5 million from the district, the purchase is not finalized, pending some due diligence including an official appraisal, an environmental assessment and completion of the title work. The list price is $1.7 million, and it went on the market in mid-August.
The district’s existing 35.15 acres connect to the Barber property to the east, which crosses Routt County Road 42 and includes the corner of C.R. 42 and U.S. Highway 40. Another 4.91-acre piece sits across U.S. 40 and includes a small portion of the Yampa River.
The Barber property includes an 8.35-acre homestead and is zoned for both residential and agricultural.
There is a bit of complexity with the title work, Meeks acknowledged, which was delayed for completion until next week.
And there’s also some confusion from county planning around whether it is one, two or three parcels, said Colorado Group Realty broker Tom Ptach, who is representing the district in the transaction.
If the deal is finalized, it will be purchased using money from the district’s capital reserve funds, which are earmarked solely for capital needs.
“The board does not take this action lightly,” said Board Treasurer Katy Lee. “We felt like this was a unique opportunity to add significant value to existing property, as well as give flexibility in the long term and to deal with growth out west.”
It’s one of the most exciting things the board has had the opportunity to do during his tenure, said Board President Joey Andrews.
“This is the district working to save its nickels and dimes,” he said. “And the community giving us the opportunity to do something like this.”
The district has spent the past year hosting committee, focus group and community meetings to craft a Phase II facility plan. The first step is to address overcrowding at the Strawberry Park campus, and options being pursued include building an elementary, middle, or combined elementary and middle school elsewhere.
While discussions have not yet focused on a site, the Steamboat II property may be utilized for the next school, Meeks said.
However, there are other possibilities. The district also owns 9.2 acres next to Whistler Park, and Meeks said discussions with developers Brynn Grey about dedicating a 10- to 12-acre parcel of their property to public use — likely a school — are ongoing. That piece is located about a mile east of the Steamboat II property and will be dependent upon whatever happens in terms of surrounding housing and infrastructure development, he said.
“With this purchase, the board and district are acknowledging that the community may look different a generation from now as housing developments in the western boundary of the district are completed,” the board wrote in a news release. “In addition to the site allowing for better access to property currently owned by the school district, having land available in this area will be vital to providing educational facilities to serve these neighborhoods in the future.”
“We can’t wait until the need arises,” said School Board Vice President Margaret Huron.
“Acquiring this property will give the district maximum flexibility regarding the type of facility that can be built,” the board wrote in the release. “While it is not the intent to move the high school, this acreage would be suitable for an elementary or middle school facility in the future, near or long-term. In addition, it could provide substantial outdoor space for learning, activities, and athletics — all things that our students, staff, families, and community value.”
The next school district community forum to discuss future growth will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at Soda Creek Elementary School.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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