Re-1 takes a `big step’ toward North Face land purchase |

Re-1 takes a `big step’ toward North Face land purchase

It’s premature to stick a happy face on the North Face, but folks are starting to smile.

That’s because the Roaring Fork Re-1 School Board and the Carbondale Board of Trustees are quickly moving to finalize an intergovernmental agreement to allow the district to buy the coveted North Face property.

“We took a big step toward signing the agreement,” said School Board Vice-President Tresi Houpt after Thursday night’s joint meeting with the Carbondale Trustees.

Carbondale Mayor Michael Hassig said, “It’s a matter of finalizing the language. I see no major stumbling blocks.”

School district officials have indicated they are shooting for a July 30 closing date on the property’s purchase.

“We’re on line for that,” Houpt said. “The town is working closely with us to make it happen.”

Thursday’s joint meeting was held at the school district headquarters. It was attended by most members of each board, three attorneys (two for the school district and one for Carbondale), one land planner and a total of six staffers from the school district and town.

For just over three hours, the two boards went through the 10-page draft agreement line by line, paragraph by paragraph.

The agreement was drafted by school district attorney Glenn Chadwick.

The big money issue in the agreement is the amount Carbondale will charge the school district for upgrades to Highway 133 and the 133 intersection at Meadowood where the 25-acre North Face property is located.

Carbondale town manager John Hier brought the school district up to speed when he told them Highway 133 needs a “$13 million fix,” but won’t be in line for state funded upgrades for 20 years. As a result, Carbondale has been working on plans to raise funds to upgrade the highway itself.

“Staff has been told to come up with a fee,” Hier said. “We don’t like being in a position of building a state highway.”

Carbondale proposed assessing the school district a pro rata fee with other area property owners for upgrades to the Highway 133/Meadowood intersection, or include the district in a funding equation for all the users from the north end to south end of Highway 133.

Town and school district agreed to use the lowest-cost provision.

One scenario presented at Tuesday night’s trustees meeting put the school district tab at $412,000, but both parties say it’s not possible to set a funding level at this point.

Despite the funding uncertainty, Highway 133 impact fees will not affect the district’s ability to sign the agreement before those details are worked out, Houpt said.

The North Face property is named after the outdoor gear company that bought the land in the late 1990s, but later left town without ever building on it. The North Face annexation agreement included numerous responsibilities the property’s owner is expected to fulfill, regardless of whether the owner is a public or private party.

The agreement will alter the annexation agreement to reflect needs and responsibilities of the school district.

The next step is for the Carbondale Trustees to review the changes in the agreement at its Tuesday night meeting, if time permits.

Hassig said he and school board president Robin Garvik will be working with attorneys Chadwick and Emerson to finalize the agreement wording before it is brought back to both boards.

The North Face property is listed at $5.95 million. The school district has not released the purchase price, but has indicated it is less than that.

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