Speakers oppose Re-1 expansion plans
Twenty-five people addressed the Re-1 school board on Wednesday night about its plans to buy and build on business sites to make room for an expanded Glenwood Springs High School. All but one spoke in opposition to Roaring Fork School District Re-1’s plans. Complaints ranged from “destroying lives” of the people who work at the businesses, such as True Value, Glenwood Gymnastics and others, to taking away tax revenue the businesses bring into the city. Before and after hearing the complaints, board members reiterated their stance that voters gave the district their approval to purchase the businesses for GSHS’s expansion when they passed an $86 million bond in November.The district formed committees and hired consultants to come up with a plan for expanding GSHS before the vote. Those people found, with input from the community, that the only option that would allow GSHS to stay in town and expand was to grow into the commercial property, board members Susan Hakanson and Bruce Wampler said. Most citizens, however, took issue with each point.”Obviously you don’t have the mandate from the voters you thought you did or these people wouldn’t be here,” Glenwood resident Dave Rippy told the board. Some audience members admitted to not paying attention to the district’s plans before the November election. Others said they only voted for the bond because the bond question was all or nothing. If the question had been broken into sections, they said, they’d never have voted for GSHS to expand into commercial zones. R.C. Fischer, of Glenwood Springs, said the board “is driving a stake right into the heart of Glenwood Springs. And that plays right into the hands of the big-box stores.”Fischer was referring to the new Glenwood Meadows project that will house a Lowe’s, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Pier 1. The lone school-board supporter was Kem Piccinati, of Carbondale, who home-schools her kids. “I’m actually here to encourage you guys,” she told the board. “I voted for it, and I knew what would happen.” She was “shocked” that people voted without knowing the consequences. Garfield County Commissioner and Glenwood Springs resident John Martin told the board: “This is the wrong decision. … We’re asking you to reconsider.”One glimmer of hope for the crowd came from superintendent Fred Wall. “I think we haven’t exhausted every possibility,” he said. But he didn’t say what was left to be explored. He went on to say: “Do I think True Value is going to stay there? Probably not. Is that building going to be there in 50 years anyway? No, probably not.” Officials hope the new GSHS will serve the community’s needs for 50 years.
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