Re-2 dismisses Peach Valley alternatives
The first site was too long and too narrow. The second site was too small and too rural.And the third site had such serious safety issues that it wasn’t even in the running.But the Peach Valley site is just right.That’s the concensus that the Garfield Re-2 School Board came to after visiting three possible alternate sites for a new high school on Monday.”The site they chose is incorrect and will provoke development and change that valley,” said Silt resident Dave Struif.”That’s the site they’ve chosen, and that’s the site we’re going to go with at this time,” said Gary Pack, district superintendent.Struif and a group called the Friends of Peach Valley have pushed the board to consider alternate sites to the Peach Valley location for several months.The school district purchased the 40-acre Peach Valley site, located between Silt and New Castle, in 1993. School construction will be funded as part of the district’s $45 million building project. Voters in November passed a $39 million bond referendum to help fund the project, which included construction of an $18 million high school. After attending school board meetings and demanding consideration of other sites, the group last week was given until Monday to come up with recommendations for an alternate site to Peach Valley.The three sites they proposed, labeled A, B and C, included a 48-acre parcel of land along Highway 6&24 just east of Silt, a 33-acre parcel located on the mesa above Davis Point and accessed by County Road 214, and a third parcel of unspecified size that is crossed by the railroad tracks.After visiting each of the sites on Monday, board members Vicki VanEngelenburg, Kim Goossens, Howard Stapleton, and Sally Brands unanimously agreed that each of the parcels was inadequate for a school site.Site A has only 18 acres that can currently be used for school construction. “This site would require expensive and demanding site preparation, removal of 20 acres of dirt, and retaining walls,” the board stated Wednesday in a press release. The property is also made of three separate parcels with three different owners with a total price tag of $1.5 million.The Peach Valley site would sell for an estimated $500,000. Board members said they would be trading the site in for a “less desirable parcel of property.” It would cost the district an additional $1 million more for land, plus an estimated $1 million more than the Peach Valley site to develop. However, another Peach Valley Friends member, Jim Beveridge, contended that the Peach Valley site would cost the district an additional $1.6 million in infrastructure due to its rural location.At 33 acres, Site B was deemed too small. Pack said that prior to coming to the district he has been involved in construction of five high schools. The smallest site was 44 acres.”If it gets much smaller, then it requires the purchasing of additional land,” he said. That property may be available with Site B, but that option wasn’t made clear in the proposal. The property, according to the board, was also too rural. The road leading to the site was too narrow and dangerous, with sections of high drop-offs not suitable for high school traffic. It would require more than a mile of additional road work. Due to steep terrain, getting water and sewer to the school would be an expensive prospect.Safety was the major concern with Site C. The railroad and a narrow frontage road bridge cross the property. The school would generate an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 railroad crossings a day. Board members deemed the site too hazardous for consideration.Board members stated they expect the Friends of Peach Valley to “accept the board’s decision to move forward with the development of the Peach Valley site for the new high school, as they indicated they would at the last school board meeting,” in event their proposals were not accepted.”I’m not sure where they got that,” said Struif, who was present at the Feb. 26 meeting.Struif criticized the board for narrowing the criteria for the school site to a point where it wouldn’t consider anything but flat, agricultural land such as that at Peach Valley.There was a different mindset when the site was selected, he said.However, Struif added, “I think the board is under a time constraint” and needs to move forward with engineering and design work for the school. Construction is set to begin summer of 2003. Pack said that in creating construction plans, the district will take the surrounding area into consideration. “We’re going to build that school to fit the environment as best we can,” he said.
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