Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Board of Education has decided to put on hold any decision about the district-owned Whistler property, which could be used as a school site or a site for affordable housing.
Affordable housing is a hot topic in the Yampa Valley and RE-2 board members said the Regional Affordable Living Foundation's proposed West End housing project lets them buy some time on a decision about the property.
"It gives us time to think more and gather more information before taking action," board member Paul Fisher said at the Monday night meeting.
The board did not say when it planned on making a decision.
The West End project is slated to have 100 units, some of which will be earmarked for employees of essential services, including the school district. RALF Executive Director Rob Dick approached the board last week about offering its employees an option for the housing, and the board expressed interest in that proposition.
The West End project aside, the board must still decide whether the Whistler property, which is just under 10 acres and located near Whistler Drive and Park Court in the mountain area, could ever be used for an elementary school, which was its intended use. In December, Dick approached the board about potentially using the site for affordable housing for its employees.
The district already owns the Lee Trust Land in West Steamboat, a 35-acre parcel that could be used for both an elementary and a middle school.
It is that area, West Steamboat, where growth is expected, according to Anne Muhme, assistant to the superintendent and a former city planner. Muhme did research on factors affecting student population and the need for affordable housing, including build-out, the number of teachers expected to retire, and growth patterns.
"We don't anticipate a lot of build-out south or east," she said. "It looks like development will come in the West Steamboat or Clark area."
Another issue was whether the land was large enough for a school and whether school buses could access it. Transplan Associates in Boulder, which restructured the parking lot at the Strawberry Park campus, said the site could accommodate parking, loading, a school and a playground. Access to the site should be increased to one-way access loop from Park and Meadow Lanes, however, Transplan recommended.
While there was not a sense of urgency from some board members on making a decision, board member Tom Sharp was adamant the board should hold onto the Whistler land.
"I would not now or in the future vote to dispose of this property," Sharp said.
Sharp said that land will only become more scarce, and that the district should try to acquire property from the Moore estate, which is adjacent to the Whistler site, to enlarge the acreage.
Board member Millie Beall agreed, saying she would not want to get rid of the land and then eventually have a need for an elementary school.
Superintendent Cyndy Simms said that if the board were to make a decision, it should hold neighborhood meetings with residents in the Whistler area.
To reach Jennifer Bartlett call 871-4204 or e-mail email@example.com