CARBONDALE — Colorado Rocky Mountain School has renewed its request for Garfield County to vacate an old road easement that runs through the middle of the private school campus that is used by pedestrians, but which has been closed to vehicle traffic for 35 years.
A recent traffic study done by the school suggests that fewer than 20 people per day who are not associated with CRMS use the pathway, which follows the main drive through the campus between the unincorporated burg of Satank on the north side and County Road 106 to the south.
So, the school is again asking the county to vacate the easement, which it argues presents a security risk for students at the independent college preparatory high school.
In exchange, CRMS would complete a partial path along Delores Way on the north end of the campus. That trail would connect to a new bike and pedestrian path that is now planned along the west side of State Highway 133 as part of a larger highway improvements project.
The Garfield County Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the road vacation proposal on Feb. 12 and will make a recommendation to the county commissioners.
In the meantime, the Carbondale Board of Trustees is also being asked to comment on the request at its regular Tuesday, Jan. 28 meeting.
In 2010, Garfield County commissioners took no action on an earlier request from CRMS to vacate the road.
Following a meeting with county commissioners and residents of the Satank neighborhood at that time, CRMS agreed to maintain pedestrian access through the campus as long as the county didn’t try to build an improved path or reopen it to vehicle traffic. The school also asked that the county not list the pathway on any public trail maps.
The county closed the road to vehicle traffic in 1979 but maintained the easement for emergency access and utility purposes. A year later Delores Way was built as the new vehicle access from Satank to Highway 133 and into Carbondale.
The approximately 1,200-foot segment of the old County Road 106 easement that runs through the campus “is used only for pedestrian and bicycle purposes by a small fraction of the general public,” according to the latest request from CRMS to the county to vacate the easement.
“It does not provide any access to public land nor does it abut or connect to any property that is a public park, recreational area or trail,” the proposal, prepared by CRMS finance director Joe White, states.
“In place of the vacated road segment, CRMS is willing to establish a pedestrian/bike trail that serves the same purpose,” White said of the proposed Delores Way connection.
Although the school has not had any security related incidents, “our concerns are greater than ever considering population growth, changing societal norms, and the realities we face in the 21st century,” White also wrote.
If the road easement is vacated, the school would maintain a temporary emergency route through the campus for police and fire agencies, or should an evacuation of the Satank area be necessary, according to the proposal. Utility easements would also be preserved.
Pedestrians may also still be allowed through the campus during daytime hours, but the school wants the right to close the campus after hours, White also indicated in the request.
CRMS was founded in 1953 by John and Anne Holden, on a small parcel next to CR 106. It later expanded onto the adjacent Bar Fork Ranch, and that’s when the school ended up straddling the county road.