City, school district formally agree to land swap
City of Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork School District officials have agreed to terms of a land exchange that clears the way for a $30 million overhaul of the Glenwood Elementary School building and campus.
City Council and the RFSD school board both unanimously approved the deal following discussion at a joint session Wednesday night.
The deal puts a little more than half of the Vogelaar Park parcel between the school and the soon-to-be-extended Eighth Street into the city’s hands for possible future housing development as part of its confluence-area redevelopment plan.
The school district, in turn, takes ownership of the city shop property and what now serves as the recycling center just south of the existing school building along School Street.
A ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled Tuesday afternoon for a redesigned campus, building addition and major renovation of the 1920s-era original school building.
The project, scheduled for completion during the 2017-18 school year, is part of the larger $122 million bond issue approved by school district voters last fall. The district also plans to break ground next week on a $34 million brand new K-8 school at its Eastbank property south of Glenwood Springs.
In securing the land swap, city officials were able to convince the school district to secure a street right of way for an extension of Ninth Street west of School Street, connecting to a road that will serve the new city-owned parcel.
Whether that street connection is ultimately built will depend on whether a development plan emerges to convert the parcel into high-density residential as part of the confluence plan. Having a through street will allow for more flexibility in the use of that property, Mayor Mike Gamba said during the joint meeting.
In order to satisfy concerns that the street could interfere with a school bus drop-off area on the north side of the new school building, the city has agreed to install some type of traffic-calming measures to limit traffic through the area.
RFSD Superintendent Diana Sirko said that if residential development does occur next door, the district would be interested in securing some units as part of the new teacher housing program that was also part of the bond issue. The district is looking to secure between 15 and 20 housing units each in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt to use as rentals for teachers and staff.
Also part of the land swap, the school district will retain the westernmost portion of the Vogelaar Park parcel to be developed into a regulation U-18 soccer field. The sports facility will satisfy the district’s portion of a so-called “6F” designation that’s tied to the property due to a 1980 federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant that paid for park improvements.
The city, should it ultimately decide to use the land for other purposes or sell off its portion for private development, would need to transfer the recreation designation to another property. It has identified three possible sites where that could occur, including two along the Roaring Fork River below the Rio Grande Trail, and one near the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
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