Sides reach compromise on trail through CRMS campus
A compromise trail alignment that will not disrupt internal traffic flow on the Colorado Rocky Mountain School campus was agreed to Monday by Garfield County commissioners and school officials.
The new plan offered by the school was approved on a 2-1 vote by the commissioners, with Commissioner Tom Jankovsky opposed.
Jankovsky said he was fine with the new trail alignment as a way to preserve pedestrian access through the campus west of Carbondale along the historic County Road 106.
However, he was sympathetic to a request by school officials to close the trail during nighttime hours out of concern for student safety. Such a closure was not part of the deal OK’d by Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson.
“I do think there’s a safety concern, and I would like to see the evening closure,” Jankovsky said.
The county, school representatives and area residents have been working since last spring to come up with a trail plan after concerns were raised that it appeared CRMS was trying to block public access through the campus.
County commissioners have maintained that they do not wish to vacate the public roadway, which was closed to vehicle traffic in 1979 but was kept open for emergency access and nonmotorized use.
The compromise will involve a foot and bike path painted onto road surface from the main southern entrance to the campus from County Road 108, following the west side of the roadway for about 300 feet.
From there, the path would cross the roadway just before a series of new parking spaces that are planned for the school’s new administration building, and continue on the east side of the road.
A crushed limestone surface trail would be built for part of the way past the school’s soccer field and out to the north access point on Dolores Way and heading into the Satank neighborhood.
The plan avoids an earlier plan put forth by Commissioner Martin that called for removable fencing across the roadway at a crossing point midway through the campus, essentially blocking internal traffic flow from one end of the campus to the other.
Doing so would have required CRMS to seek a change to a 1999 agreement with the county that permitted the school to use the county right of way uninhibited. The CRMS board of trustees decided recently not to seek that change, and offered the new trail alignment instead.
“Once again, we have stepped forward to try to accommodate a pedestrian path through our campus,” CRMS board member Chelsea Brundige said. “We are pleased to offer what we think is the best solution.”
The commissioners’ agreed-to plan also calls for a single post in the middle of the north trail entrance, intended to block vehicle access. CRMS had asked to install a “chicane” type of gate instead. That raised concerns about limiting handicapped access and making it difficult for bikes with trailers to pass through.
The county will continue to evaluate the costs to build the new trail, and how much the commissioners would be willing to cover. Initial estimates put the project at more than $39,000.
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