Vote yes on city land question — and bond issue | PostIndependent.com

Vote yes on city land question — and bond issue

Mary Elizabeth Geiger

I am writing as a RFSD R-1 board member, Glenwood Springs Planning & Zoning Commission member and community member.

The importance of supporting our schools and Glenwood Springs’ Confluence Plan cannot be overstated. If you live within the city’s limits, you have received your mail-in ballot that is due Sept. 8 — Tuesday.

Voting in favor of the city being able to sell or otherwise dispose of its real property located at 941 and 1023 School St. (per the city’s website, there was a typo on the ballot and the correct address is 941 School, not 914) will accomplish several goals: 1) allow the city to move forward to implement the Confluence Plan, which was initially adopted in 1999 concerning the redevelopment of the area near the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers and 2) allow the Roaring Fork School District to move forward with its redevelopment of the Glenwood Springs Elementary School site, in conjunction with the city.

Recently, people have expressed some confusion about the city’s ballot and special election, and that somehow this election and ballot were contrived in “secret.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. As recently as Aug. 20, this paper published an article regarding this election and what it is to accomplish. Prior to that, this matter appeared on the City Council meeting agendas on May 7 and May 21, as well as in articles in this paper on April 22 and May 7.

The city’s website includes information on the Confluence Plan, which shows sketches of the proposed redevelopment of the GSES and Vogelaar Park. The city has worked closely with RFSD in participating in its Facility Master Plan planning process.

Yes, in order to stay informed about what the city is doing, you do need to review agendas and attend meetings. As required, all such discussions take place in a public forum.

The city election had to be a special election at an earlier date as the success thereof is integral to the success of the RFSD’s Facilities Master Plan and bond election in November. This master planning process has been going on for over a year, covered by The Aspen Times and Aspen Journalism articles back on Oct. 13, 2014, and Nov. 13, 2014, and continuing through the public planning process as set forth in articles published in this paper on Jan. 15, April 22 and May 7, 2015.

Studies have shown that the condition of school facilities has a significant impact on students’ academic performance and the performance and retention of teachers. Even seemingly benign things such as peeling paint, natural light and acoustics can affect student performance by up to 15 percent when socioeconomic factors are equalized.

Feeling safe, not being overcrowded and having access to creative spaces, gathering spaces and cutting-edge equipment and labs also enhances student performance and makes teachers feel valued.

RFSD has not undertaken this Facilities Master Planning process lightly and has involved more than 40 people, including staff, parents and community members throughout the district in just the core committee, as well as holding over 10 public meetings involving hundreds of people this past spring.

GSES received $9.1 million in BEST grant funding to go toward the redevelopment of that school, which has been determined to be one of the worst school facilities in the state. This money will be lost if the bond issue does not pass. Putting the proposed projects on a fast track ensures that the current bids/construction costs stay accurate and holds the school district accountable to ensure all projects are completed.

Everyone is concerned about taxes. Recent letters expressed concern specifically about the effect on seniors in the area. There are property tax exemptions available for qualifying seniors (as approved by voters in 2000 – http://tinyurl.com/GarfieldExemptions). Better school facilities better the community, which will continue an economy that is on the upswing. Vote yes in September and November.


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