CRMS rejects Martin’s trail plan through campus |

CRMS rejects Martin’s trail plan through campus

Garfield County officials in August placed "Historic Right of Way" signs on either end of the CRMS campus to mark the County Road 106 right of way. The road was closed as a vehicle route in the late 1970s but kept open for emergency access and for foot traffic and other non-motorized use.
John Stroud | Post Independent

Colorado Rocky Mountain School does not want fences blocking vehicle access in the middle of its campus west of Carbondale, and has decided not to give up its right to use the county road right of way for internal circulation.

At the same time, the school says it remains willing to provide for a designated public path as requested by the Garfield County commissioners and neighbors, but crossing the road at a different marked location without a barricade.

The school’s governing board recently decided not to ask the county to modify the school’s permitted use of the County Road 106 right of way, as suggested under a proposal by Commissioner John Martin in late July.

The decision essentially rejects Martin’s proposal to build a soft-surface trail starting on one side of the road at the south entrance to the campus, crossing at one point and using removable safety barriers to protect pedestrians and keep vehicles on either side.

Under Martin’s plan, which was approved on a 2-1 vote of the commissioners July 27, the trail would then continue on the other side of the road next to the CRMS soccer field and out to Dolores Way.

“In essence, the county is asking the school to relinquish its own historic right that was granted to it by the Garfield County commissioners,” CRMS officials said in a position statement issued Friday in advance of a meeting this afternoon to update efforts to establish a trail through the campus.

That right was memorialized in a 1999 conditional use permit that allowed continued use of the public road as a driveway and other school facilities.

Blocking the road as suggested by Martin “would sever the (school’s) connection between student and faculty residences, its kayak, horse, and ranching programs and the rest of the campus,” according to the statement.

The current, unrestricted driveway use “also ensures emergency vehicle access to all portions of our campus,” the statement says.

Instead of the Martin plan, the school proposes to move some fencing and other obstructions and build a trail crossing from the west to east side of the roadway nearer the main entrance but with no barriers.

It would pass from the entrance at County Road 108 where a new monument entryway was completed earlier this year, allowing foot and bicycle passage to a controlled gate at Dolores Way that would prevent motorized vehicles from passing through.

Residents of the unincorporated Satank neighborhood north of the campus brought the issue before the county earlier this year, asking that a public trail be designated to preserve pedestrian access through the campus.

Concerns were raised at the time that the new entryway and the placement of several stacks of hay within the right of way last spring appeared to discourage public passageway through the campus.

Twice in recent years, most recently on a 2-1 split vote last year, county commissioners rejected the private boarding school’s requests to vacate the historic road right of way for campus security reasons.

In exchange, the school has offered to complete a foot and bike path along Dolores Way to Highway 133, or build a path along the eastern and southern fringe of the campus connecting to an existing path on 108 Road leading into Carbondale.

After pressure to keep the public path within the historic road right of way, CRMS relented and has been working with the county, neighbors and Carbondale residents to make that happen.

“The school has offered a solution to the problem that does not contemplate closure of the road nor does it require a change in the school’s permitted access,” the school’s position statement continued. “The plan allows the school to continue the use of an integral part of the school’s internal road network, takes into account many of the features of the county commissioners’ proposal, and closely resembles the agreed upon outcomes of the citizen working group appointed by the commissioners.”

A cost estimate for the county of between $38,000 and $42,000 to build the trail, depending on the chosen alignment, is also on the table for the commissioners to consider. The matter is on the afternoon agenda starting at 1 p.m.

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