Company gives School District 16 a land gift |

Company gives School District 16 a land gift

PARACHUTE – Everyone in the county can feel the population growth in one way or another. West of Rifle, the small town of Battlement Mesa has witnessed growing pains as well.Garfield County School District 16 has especially felt the effects of the swelling population in the schools. The October counts for the school calculated 539 students at Bea Underwood Elementary, which has a capacity of 450.On the November ballot, issue 3C asks for voters to approve a $35 million bond issue for construction cost of a new facility and improvements to existing facilities. The bond won’t increase tax levels for property owners in the region from current levels and is viewed as a good opportunity by most. One person in particular, Vice President of Development for the Battlement Mesa Company Eric Schmela, wanted to help out the school district and community. And he certainly found a good way to do it.At the Oct. 10 school board meeting, Schmela told board members that the Battlement Mesa Company would donate 25 acres of land in town as the site for the new middle school if the bond issue passes. The donation of the property is a big step in the right direction for the district.”It was really a no-brainer,” Schmela said. “Donating the land seemed like the right thing to do in this situation. It will allow the district to spend the money on other things like basketballs and books.”School District Superintendent Dr. Steve Mckee is more than pleased with the generous contribution of the company and feels very fortunate that they decided to come to the district with this great gift he said.”The bottom line is, with all the increasing cost of construction, anything that can be done to help out with these projects will help us out immensely.”The donation of the land is contingent on the bond issue passing, but Schmela said that this is a win-win situation for the school district, the developer, and the community.”We need quality schools and a solid home-base area for the market that is moving here,” Schmela said. “The way the market is booming right now, setting aside the land for the school seemed like the right play.”New schools and development brings people to the area, Schmela said, adding that it was a “good deal” for the Battlement Mesa company, too. It will allow them to create affordable housing neighborhoods for the community that will attract people from surrounding areas.The whole thing came together with little opposition from either side and has been a smooth project so far.”It’s neat to see all of the entities involved be so cooperative to create something like this that’s positive for the community,” Schmela said.Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. 16604jgardner@postindependent.comBreakout- A community forum to discuss the bond issue and the donated land will be held at the Battlement Mesa Community Center on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 2 p.m.

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