Martin takes issue with CRMS access work
Garfield County Commissioner John Martin is questioning whether proper procedures were followed in permitting a realignment of the main entrance from a county road into the Colorado Rocky Mountain School campus outside Carbondale.
“In my opinion, we have a closure of a (county) road without a proper permit, that was done in violation,” Martin said when questions were raised earlier this week by a resident of the nearby Satank neighborhood about work under way along County Road 106.
Rather than a simple driveway permit, as authorized by the county’s Road and Bridge Department, Martin said the work alters the existing county road right of way.
“We have a process for vacating or relocating roads, and it’s something that needs to come before this board,” he said at the April 6 commissioners meeting in reference to the fact that the driveway is also a legal, historic county road easement.
That position was upheld by the commissioners last year after CRMS requested that the roadway be vacated as a way to control pedestrian flow through the campus. Although the road easement is closed to vehicle traffic, pedestrians are allowed to use it to walk through the campus between Satank and 106 Road.
The driveway improvements now being made, merging the main entrance and the internal Whitaker Lane into a single, perpendicular access off of County Road 106, were suggested by county road and bridge officials, Jeff Leahy, headmaster for the independent college preparatory school, said in a separate interview.
“We were approached by the county to enhance and improve the safety of our driveway,” Leahy said.
He said the old configuration required anyone entering traffic from the main entry or Whitaker Lane to stop well in advance of coming out onto 106 Road, while looking sharply to the right or left to see if anyone was coming.
The new alignment also requires vehicles entering the campus to slow down significantly and go around a newly installed berm area.
“It has substantially improved safety going into and out of the campus, and with internal movement,” said Leahy, who said that process started even before the road vacation question came up in early 2014.
County Road and Bridge Foreman Mike Prehm said at the Monday county commissioners meeting when the new questions surfaced that his intent was to make the situation safer.
“We do have a lot of difficulty with these intersections that come in at different angles, and this was a good opportunity to make this a safer place for pedestrians and vehicles,” Prehm said.
He said the work only involved issuing a driveway relocation permit, because the right of way was not being affected. Leahy also said the school still fully intends to allow continued pedestrian access.
However, Martin said that gets complicated by the fact that pedestrians are now made to go outside the legal road right of way, resulting in trespassing on the CRMS property, “unless we have an agreement otherwise,” he said.
“The process needs to be followed, and we need to review it,” Martin said.
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who was in favor of vacating the roadway last year in favor of an alternative pedestrian trail around the campus that was proposed by CRMS, said he didn’t see any reason to question the driveway project.
“It’s not a road, it’s a pedestrian access,” Jankovsky said. “By doing this, they are improving safety and people can still walk and bike through the campus.”
Satank resident John Armstrong questioned the impact of the driveway work, and asked that the county put up signs on both sides of the campus designating the passageway.
“I was shocked that there was no public process or noticing for this work, and now it appears the road has been taken out of the right of way,” Armstrong said.
The commissioners will discuss the matter further and whether a more formal process is required, at their regular May 4 meeting.
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