Thank you, Ernie!
It began with a phone call from a concerned citizen about six months ago. From experience, we were prepared to hear how current issues within our district affected his student personally. Instead, our conversation took another path. We discussed a unique opportunity for the school district to acquire a large parcel of land within the Carbondale town limits for future schools and staff housing.
One of the by-products of life in a resort area is the rapid disappearance of suitable and affordable sites for public schools. More often than not in recent years, large developers have paid fees in lieu of giving land to the school district. Even when based on an equitable formula, these fees come nowhere close to satisfying their intended purpose of enabling the school district to buy land for schools. Fees in lieu of land dedication are really more like a passbook savings account for the district because they dribble in as each municipality and county grants building permits. By the time we’ve acquired a chunk of money from this source, the real estate market has escalated beyond our reach.
So seemed the case with The North Face property. With a price tag of nearly $6 million, we never would have looked at it twice if not for Ernie Gianinetti. The North Face had experienced years of difficulty in consummating a sale with prospective purchasers. The property was under contract to a buyer who was seemingly facing the same fate. Ernie asked that we take a serious look at the situation.
As always with our decisions, we examined our resources carefully, and in this case weighed the cost of not pursuing this purchase. Would there ever be a parcel such as this inside the town boundaries, which would allow us to maintain a somewhat-contiguous campus with each school within walking distance of the other? This opportunity had gotten away from us nearly seven years ago. How much more would the property cost us down the road if we ever got the chance to purchase it from the next owner?
Ernie encouraged us to make the offer we could afford. We discussed possible tax incentives from the seller in the form of a charitable land donation to keep the price down. Ernie offered to donate 90 percent of his considerable commission to help reduce the cost to the school district. In the end, we were able to save nearly $2 million off the fair market value based on the lower of two independent appraisals done on the property.
As a community, we owe Ernie Gianinetti a debt of gratitude. His financial contribution to the district and community was surely significant, and he gave us more than that. His vision brought us the opportunity, which is now a reality for future generations of Carbondale students. He was supportive and unfailingly optimistic when we hit a snag or two with the town during negotiations. How often does someone step up to the plate and do something genuinely good while asking nothing in return?
Ernie’s selfless concern for his community should be applauded. Please shake this man’s hand the next time you see him. Let us be the first to acknowledge his generosity. Thank you Ernie!
Roaring Fork RE-1
Board of Education
P.S. Join us at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, for a community celebration and recognition of Ernie on our new South Campus site.
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