Easement through CRMS campus to remain public
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Colorado Rocky Mountain School may somehow mark a public pathway that runs through its campus and would like to post designated hours for when it may be used by the general public, school officials said at a meeting with Garfield County commissioners and several neighbors Wednesday.
But the independent college-prep school does not intend to re-petition for the county to vacate the easement, CRMS Headmaster Jeff Leahy said.
“We will basically maintain the status quo,” he said. “It is going to remain a public thoroughfare.”
In turn, though, the school asks that the county not open the road for regular vehicle traffic or otherwise make it an improved trail, and to not list it on any trail maps.
Last month, county commissioners took no action on an application by CRMS to vacate the historic County Road 106 right of way as it runs through the campus.
Instead, Wednesday’s meeting was suggested as a way to work with neighbors who were concerned about the potential closure of the pathway and find some middle ground.
The school had applied to have the road vacated, primarily due to fears about “unwelcome visitors” passing through campus who might pose a danger to students or faculty.
“Safety is among our biggest concerns,” Joe White, the school’s director of finance, said at Wednesday’s meeting, which was attended by several school officials and neighbors, as well as the county commissioners and staff, and some town of Carbondale officials.
“One thing the school would like to see is some restriction on hours, and no overnight access through the campus,” White said.
Leahy added that the campus closes at 7:30 p.m. nightly, when day students are sent home and boarding students must go to their dorms for the night.
“We would like to see something allowing us the authority to ask someone to leave the campus who we might perceive as being a threat after hours,” he said.
Neighbors had objected to the idea of the county abandoning the right of way, saying it is an important pedestrian link between Satank, an unincorporated neighborhood just north of CRMS, and Carbondale’s Main Street to the south of the campus.
Having use of the pathway connection through the school campus provides a safer route into town than using Dolores Way and State Highway 133, they said.
And, should any of the CRMS campus property be developed in the future, the county would be wise to maintain the road right of way for possible vehicle access, some neighbors also said at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Dolores Way is maxed out now,” Satank resident Debra Burleigh said. “I would think that, in terms of future development potential, [the county] may need to revisit vehicle traffic.”
Leahy said the only portion of CRMS’ property that is being considered for sale to a developer is a small section north of Dolores Way, which likely would not trigger a need for access through the campus.
“Our land is our endowment,” he said. “If we were to sell that land we would use the money for the greater financial stability of the school.”
Another Satank resident, Brad Hendricks, suggested that any agreements between the county and CRMS about the easement include language that, should the property be re-developed for uses other than an educational institution, that the county could consider re-opening the road for traffic.
According to legal documents, CR 106 dates at least back to 1910, when it first appeared on a map of county roads connecting Carbondale with Glenwood Springs.
CRMS was founded in 1953 by John and Anne Holden, on a small parcel next to CR 106. It was soon expanded onto the adjacent Bar Fork Ranch, and the school then straddled the county road.
The road was closed to traffic and taken off the county roads inventory in 1979, after the school deeded the land for Dolores Way to the county, along the northern edge of the school’s property, leading out to Highway 133.
At the time, the county agreed to close CR 106 through the campus to vehicles, at the school’s request, but not to vacate the county’s right of way.
Commissioner John Martin recommended that the school post the campus as private property on either end of the pathway so that the public is aware that they must stay on the trail.
“You need to post it to prevent against trespassing,” he said. “Right now people are running amok with all the other public accesses onto the campus, and that’s something you don’t want to do.”
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