Peach Valley defenders put cards on table
Peach Valley school site opponents met their Monday deadline to submit an alternate site for the new Garfield Re-2 School District high school.The school board will review and consider the site, board President Vicki VanEngelenburg said.”I’m relieved,” said Dave Struif of Silt. “I’m glad the school board gave us this opportunity.”The piece of land, according to Struif, encompasses 48 acres and is located just west of Davis Point and east of Silt. The site lies within 500 feet of the town’s water and sewer lines.Struif and the Friends of Peach Valley have been pushing the school board to consider other possible locations for the school. Construction of the $18 million facility is set to begin in 2003.The group contends that the current site, a 40-acre piece of flat land located between New Castle and Silt along Highway 6 and 24 in the area known as Peach Valley, is not the best place to build a school. Last week, the board gave the contingent until Monday to come up with a site that could support a new school.VanEngelenburg said she received more than one site proposal, but would not list the others.She said that board members were just beginning the process of evaluating the site near Silt. She did not yet have a date when the board would respond.Peach Valley residents Ken Kuhns and Jim Beveridge have come before the board in recent months to urge board members to find another site. Peach Valley is primarily agricultural, they have argued. They worry that the school would change the character of the area and increase traffic along County Road 214 (Peach Valley Road) and Highway 6 & 24 to dangerous levels.Beveridge estimated the Peach Valley site could cost the district an added $1.6 million because of the site’s rural location and two miles of infrastructure. Beveridge, a former Rifle councilman, used figures from the Rifle Public Works Department and Garfield County Engineering Department.”If the school was constructed adjacent to existing utilities, these expenses would not be required,” Beveridge wrote.Peach Valley resident Lisa Martin said she also informally proposed a site to the board at previous meetings.A piece of land owned by Fay Faas just east of Castle Valley Ranch in New Castle has already been established as a school site.Martin said the site makes more sense than the Peach Valley location because a soccer field is already in place, New Castle provides more places to eat than Silt, and transportation costs could be saved since Castle Valley is a growing family community.”Just based on demographics alone it would be a much better site than the Peach Valley site,” said Martin.Martin said she was frustrated to read in last Friday’s Post Independent a quote from VanEngelenburg that no one had come forward with another site.”In talking to these people,” said Martin, “why do they have their hands over their ears?”Struif said, “The Peach Valley land is perfect (for construction), but it doesn’t take the whole community into consideration. Ultimately, when you look at this site, it’s the wrong place” for a school.The Silt site, he said, also offers numerous benefits. Of the 48 acres, eight are located south of Highway 6 & 24 and would be ideal for a bus barn and other buildings and for student parking, said Struif. Across the highway is a 12.5-acre flat area suitable for ball fields. Above that is a bench that might work for the school site, which could be linked to the parking lot with an underpass. In addition, added Struif, the property is annexable, which means police protection would be available.Struif, who is a real estate agent with Starr Western Real Estate in Glenwood Springs, said the site is owned by three separate parties. He added that he has a buyer for the Peach Valley site. While he estimates the existing site to be worth less than the proposed site, the savings in infrastructure alone “could easily, easily make up the costs.”
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