CRMS concedes to path through campus
Colorado Rocky Mountain School is willing to negotiate a marked pathway with a clear entry and exit point on each end of a public Garfield County right of way that traverses the school’s campus west of Carbondale.
The concession from school officials came at a follow-up hearing Monday before the county commissioners after commissioners and dozens of residents and school employees had a chance last week to walk the easement as part of a fact-finding tour.
Student safety and general campus security continue to be a concern for the private high school that serves a large number of boarding students who live on campus, CRMS Head of School Jeff Leahy said.
But if the old County Road 106 easement can’t be vacated, as the school has requested several times in the past, it makes sense to at least define where people can and can’t be as they pass through the campus, he said.
“A clearly defined entry and exit point and a marked path will help us know where people are and when we can remove someone,” Leahy said of trespassing concerns.
“We believe this is something that will be in the best interests of our school, the community and the people trying to move through our property,” he said.
Details of the plan are to be worked out over the next month between a group of designated school representatives, county officials and residents. That will include people living in the nearby Satank neighborhood who have objected to CRMS’s attempts to close the road or alter access in any way.
Another meeting to formally consider whatever solution comes out of those discussions is set for June 15 during the afternoon session of that day’s regular county commissioners meeting.
In the meantime, commissioners agreed Monday to grant a revocable license for CRMS to encroach on the county’s right of way for purposes of completing a monument at the school’s main entrance at the intersection of County Roads 106 and 108.
In turn, a stop-work order that was issued in late April after questions arose will be lifted, allowing the work to resume.
The school’s agreement to designating a pathway is the latest in a drawn-out battle over maintaining public access through the campus that has gotten more heated in recent years.
CRMS, in 1979, persuaded the county to close to vehicle access what until that point had been the primary access from Carbondale to the unincorporated area of Satank. In exchange, the school granted the road easement for what became Dolores Way that now links Satank to Highway 133.
But the county maintained the old CR 106 easement as a “secondary road” restricted to nonmotorized access only. The school has tried over the years to get the county to vacate the roadway, including as recently as last year, but county commissioners have repeatedly denied the requests.
As for the new path, among the details to be worked out are whether it would involve a paved trail, what type of gates to install on either end, signs marking the path, and any restrictions, such as possible nighttime closure.
Residents of Satank and Carbondale applauded CRMS for agreeing to work out a formal access plan.
“From my experience, there is no security outside of trust,” said John Hoffmann, who sits on the Carbondale town board. He added that a clearly marked, even a paved trail through the campus, could serve as a way for the public to help “keep an eye out for the interests of the students.”
Added Carbondale resident Bill Spence, “I am encouraged to see movement by CRMS toward a win-win solution here.”
He added that the negotiations should include who will be responsible for construction and maintenance of any trail that results.
But Commissioner Tom Jankovsky expressed reservations about having a paved, improved trail through the campus.
“We do have a right of way through there, but I would hate for us to come back with a paved surface, unless we put the burden on CRMS to maintain it,” said Jankovsky, who was the only one of the three commissioners to support CRMS’s road vacation request last year.
County Manager Andrew Gorgey indicated that it’s possible the town of Carbondale might be interested in being responsible for maintaining any new trails, if the county or some other entity were to build them.
That could include new trail connections near CRMS that might be built in the future, he said. Currently, two paved trails on CR 106 and Dolores Way end just short of the campus on the south and near the Carbondale Community School on the north.
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Colorado Highway 139 is closed between mile markers 12 to 39 both directions, Douglas Pass, due to a wildfire. The fire is putting off a lot of smoke, decreasing visibility.