County commissioners OK Martin’s CRMS trail plan
A proposal by Garfield County Commissioner John Martin that would block vehicle access through the Colorado Rocky Mountain School campus, including internal school traffic, while allowing foot traffic and other nonmotorized use, got the green light Monday.
Commissioners, in a 2-1 vote with Tom Jankovsky opposed, OK’d a plan that would involve two fences midway through campus across the County Road 106 right of way that runs through the private boarding school campus just west of Carbondale.
The fences would require any vehicles accessing staff and student residences on the north end of the campus to do so from an existing private gate where Dolores Way meets County Road 106 in the Satank neighborhood.
Vehicles entering the school campus from the south entrance would not be able to go past the fences.
The fences are intended to prevent vehicle conflicts with pedestrians, bikes and other trail users by detouring internal school traffic away from the point where the unpaved trail would cross from the west to the east side of the right of way.
The plan effectively dedicates to pedestrians the historic right of way that bisects the school campus, in keeping with a 1979 county resolution that closed the road to vehicles but maintained it for nonmotorized public use.
The deal may reopen a 1999 agreement between the county and CRMS that allowed new buildings to be constructed on the campus, and also preserved the school’s use of the right of way for internal vehicle traffic.
If the fence is erected, the school may want to seek an amendment to that agreement allowing for an alternative driveway access on the north end of the campus.
CRMS officials, in a Friday letter responding to Martin’s trail proposal, said they would prefer not to restrict internal traffic but would go along with the county’s efforts to allow safe foot or bicycle passage through the campus.
“We still maintain that a route around the campus core, rather than through it, better serves the community in the long term,” Glenwood Springs attorney Chad Lee, who is representing CRMS, said in the letter.
CRMS lobbied for rerouting the public right of way around the south and east side of the campus after Satank and other Carbondale-area residents asked the county this spring to designate a clearly marked trail along the road easement.
Concerns were also raised at that time that the berm and driveway improvements appeared to be an attempt to deter foot traffic through the campus.
County commissioners have been clear that they don’t want to build a paved trail that the county would be responsible for maintaining.
“We just want to make sure pedestrian and bike traffic can pass through safely,” Martin said.
Jankovsky said he was willing to go along with some minor improvements on either end of the campus to aid pedestrian passage through the campus, but was not willing to go along with Martin’s fence proposal.
“There is a lot of activity going on there,” Jankovsky said of his observations during a public site tour last week. “It just brings up again whether this is the right place to have a trail.”
Jankovsky has been supportive of the school’s suggestion to build a public trail around the campus, and was on the losing end of a 2-1 vote last year on CRMS’s request to have the CR 106 easement vacated.
Commissioner Mike Samson has sided with Martin in wanting to maintain the road right of way and preserve nonmotorized public passage through the campus.
Carbondale-area resident Dorothea Farris, a former county commissioner in neighboring Pitkin County, applauded the Garfield commissioners for preserving public access along the road right of way.
“The fact is this is a public road and a public asset,” she said, warning against allowing “private interests” to control the use of that asset.
“We need to be careful not to set a precedent that limits the public’s use of what’s historically there,” Farris said.
Lee said at the Monday meeting that the school will continue to work with the county to carry out the trail plan, but asked for signs disallowing drugs, alcohol and firearms, and possibly a nighttime trail closure. He also asked that the fencing plan take into account emergency vehicle access.
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