Roaring Fork Schools board asked to add its voice to Glenwood quarry fight
Student safety could be compromised by the expansion of the limestone quarry on Transfer Trail, the Glenwood Springs Citizens Alliance says in a request to have the Roaring Fork School District board weigh in on the issue.
Two factors in particular could negatively impact students — conflicts with school bus routes and poor air quality, members of the Citizens Alliance said in presenting their arguments to the school board at its meeting in Carbondale on Wednesday night.
The group formally asked the school board to consider and approve a resolution opposing the quarry expansion. The board tabled the discussion until it can have actual resolution language to consider, along with a recommendation from school district staff on the matter.
“As we have continued to be a voice in the community on this issue, more and more groups are recognizing the importance of taking a position,” Citizens Alliance Executive Director Jeff Peterson said.
Along with the Glenwood Springs City Council, town and city councils from Rifle to Aspen have all approved resolutions supporting the Citizens Alliance in its efforts to oppose RMR Industrials’ plan to greatly expand the Mid-Continent limestone quarry just north of Glenwood.
The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association has also taken a position against the quarry expansion. Peterson said it made sense to approach the school board, with two key impacts in mind — bus route safety and air quality associated with dust emissions.
RMR’s plan, which is being reviewed by the Bureau of Land Management, calls for hauling crushed rock by truck from the mine, down Transfer and Traver Trail roads to U.S. 6 and the rail load-out on Devereux Road.
Those estimated 320 to 450 haul trips per day “would overlap with and cross the many school bus routes that travel east and west along Highway 6 in Glenwood Springs, and to and from the Glenwood Springs Middle School,” the GCA said in a written proposal to the school board.
“In addition, students living in the Oasis Creek neighborhood who might wish to walk to or from the bus stop at the intersection of Traver Trail and Highway 6 would be subjected to high levels of truck traffic for nearly a half-mile along Traver Trail.”
That’s a safety issue for motorists, school buses, cyclists and pedestrians, according to the GCA.
Likewise, children are at risk of negative health impacts from particulate matter that typically comes from quarry operations, the GCA said.
“The Roaring Fork School District operates three schools within two miles of the quarry site — Glenwood Springs Elementary, Middle and High schools.
“Significant increases in airborne particulate matter over a 20-year period would pose serious dangers to the health of students, faculty and staff at these schools,” the GCA said in its pitch to the school board.
The quarry is currently operating under a Garfield County permit at a production level of 100,000 tons of rock. RMR proposes mining 5 million tons of rock per year for 20 years, according to the plan being evaluated by the BLM.
Peterson added that the quarry operation could also result in a decrease in property valuations. That, too, could have an impact on school district tax funding, he said.
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Equity, and how that plays into school district communications with primarily Spanish-speaking families, became a topic of discussion as the Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education approved the 2021-22 district budget Wednesday night.