Six months after completing an agreement to acquire property adjacent to Soda Creek Elementary School, the Steamboat Springs School District continues to search for the best way to use the land.
Now the district is seeking input from residents.
Facilities Director Rick Denney scheduled four public meetings -- two each in March and April -- to hear recommendations for short-term and long-term plans for the 1.5-acre piece of land owned for decades by Steamboat resident Bill Padgett and his family.
The district reached an agreement with Padgett last fall to acquire the property, for which the school system will pay $568,000.
District officials had eyed the land for some time, especially as safety concerns escalated in front of the elementary school, where the traffic pattern has been described as unsolvable.
The small parking area directly in front of Soda Creek's main entrance isn't big enough to accommodate school buses and vehicles driven by parents when dropping off and picking up their children, School Board members said last year.
Past attempts to use crossing guards and alter the traffic pattern near the school have been unsuccessful.
The parcel of land sits at the intersection of Laurel Street, Pawintah Street and Crawford Avenue.
District officials are yet to determine final plans for the property and hope input from residents will help. The end result likely will involve shifting traffic patterns near the school and providing a larger, safer area for student pick-up and drop-off.
The first meeting was held March 16. Other meetings are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. March 30, April 13 and April 27 in Soda Creek's media center.
Before reaching the settlement agreement with Padgett, the district began the process of acquiring the land through eminent domain -- the right of government to take private property for public use. Advised by an attorney that his options were limited, Padgett agreed to settle with the district.
Under the terms of the agreement, Padgett can remain on the property until Aug. 1. He can move his house off the property before that date, but at his own expense. If his house and another building on the property aren't removed by Aug. 1 the district likely will have them removed with the costs of demolition deducted from Padgett's compensation package.
The settlement package is being paid with Education Fund money.
For more information, call Denney at 871-3194.
-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234
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