Board approves GSHS schematic
The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education approved a schematic design for Glenwood Springs High School Wednesday, a move the board hoped would signal that there is no chance for a change in plans.The board heard and saw a presentation from GSHS’s designers, RTA Architecture, which included everything from day lighting ideas to plans for outdoor chalkboards. Just before the board approved the design, board member Peter Delany said, “I would like (the approval) to be our signal to the community that no one on this board is considering anything else.”The rest of the board agreed, then approved the design.The approval didn’t come without the board seeing the passionate opposition to district plans to take over the spaces True Value and Glenwood Gymnastics occupy to build the school.A group supporting those businesses, many members of which also support a recall of board members Susan Hakanson and Bruce Wampler, criticized the board for what they said was closed-mindedness on the board’s part. Recall organizer Jennifer Vanian introduced herself to the board for the first time before urging the board to reconsider. The recall effort is not personal, but an effort to get the board to listen and to raise community awareness, Vanian said. She even offered to stop the recall. “I ask you to be open to a redesign, and I’ll call off the recall,” she told the board.But the board would not reconsider.”To say we’re not flexible is crazy,” said board member Michael Bair. The board went through years of planning and community input before the bond election last November, he said.He went on to question the logic of building a substandard school to save businesses that might be in jeopardy anyway.”Viable businesses relocate all the time,” he said. “If True Value can’t afford rent somewhere else in Glenwood Springs … why is that all of a sudden the school board’s fault?”If (True Value) is not viable to move down the street … what’s going to happen when those new stores open,” he said, referring to the arrival of a Lowe’s and Target at Glenwood Meadows this fall.Vanian had prepared a list of questions to ask the board, but grew frustrated during RTA’s presentation and left.”All they want to do is reinforce their design,” she said in the parking lot. “They didn’t take any questions. … It’s been a closed group, and it’s still a closed group.”The board did open the floor to questions, but not until RTA had finished presenting.
Despite the politics surrounding the school, the design wowed the board, which has seen design presentations on most of its schools in the past few months.”I’ve got to tell you, I just think this design is excellent,” Delany told RTA.RTA was quick to point out that educational goals pushed the design of the building, and that it had a tremendous group of citizens advising the firm on what the school should look like.The design will increase the number of classrooms from 20 to 24, which will vary in size to promote flexibility. Some will have partial glass walls to bring in daylight. It will increase parking from 249 to 318, and at the same time reduce the number of trips on Grand Avenue by 1,180. It will also increase capacity from 811 students to 850, with the possibility of classroom additions to support a total of 1,000 students. It may also include underground ice storage that will help cool the building through displacement ventilation, keycard access for students and windows that double as chalkboards, the architects said.RTA, which specializes in school design, said it had never packed so programming and flexibility into such a small campus.At the same time, there are no educational compromises, said board member Bruce Wampler.Hakanson did ask RTA if the school could support its needs on just its current campus, the district office’s property, and the building Bray Real Estate occupies, as Vanian has suggested. “Empirically anything is possible, but I’ve got to start throwing some things away,” said architect Mark Harris. Specifically, the cost would increase dramatically, the school wouldn’t have room to grow with enrollment increases, and parking would be problematic, RTA said.In other news:• The board tabled a discussion on condemnation after a closed-door meeting with the lawyer it has hired to negotiate the sale of adjacent properties. If the board does decide on condemnation, it likely won’t happen until the end of August, and the businesses won’t have to move until January, Hakanson said.
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