Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs School District officials and representatives of the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp plan to meet soon to resolve who has responsibility over a sewer line discovered during construction at Strawberry Park Elementary School.
Todd Ficken, project manager for the school district's major construction projects, previously said moving the 8-inch sewer line is a simple procedure. Resolving ownership issues is not.
In 1999, the Perry-Mansfield facility was relying on an outdated septic system to deal with sewage. Perry-Mansfield officials asked to tap into the city's sewer system through a line that Perry-Mansfield would build. Two years later, the line was built, but it had to cross property owned by the school district.
That portion of property is now needed for the expansion of Strawberry Park Elementary School.
"We have a solution, we know what we need to do, and it's a question of how the Steamboat Springs School Board wants us to proceed on this matter," Ficken said.
A temporary license to build the sewer line - paid for by Perry-Mansfield - was issued Sept. 10, 2001, and school district officials expected the temporary license to be replaced by a permanent easement. The temporary license expired Dec. 31, 2001, but the permanent easement was never executed.
"The fact that an as-built legal description and survey never became part of the school district site files is one of the reasons (the sewer line) was not identified during the early design phases of the Strawberry Park construction project," said Rick Denney, the districts director of facilities, in a letter submitted to the School Board on Monday.
The "as-built" drawings are legal descriptions and surveys required by the city of Steamboat Springs, Routt County and the school district to move forward with the permanent easement.
"What we were planning on doing (at that time) was waiting until we got those 'as-built' (drawings) to file an easement, but unfortunately those were never provided in print, so we never moved forward with it," said Dale Mellor, the district's director of finance.
Mellor and Ficken conducted preliminary discussions with Perry-Mansfield representatives last week, and the School Board moved Monday to allow Interim Superintendent Sandra Smyser to negotiate an agreement.
"They just explained to us what happened and possible solutions to it, and we will be meeting with them in a couple weeks to discuss it again," said Karolynn Lestrud, president of the Friends of Perry-Mansfield.
School Board members indicated Monday they believe the onus could fall on Perry-Mansfield.
"We have a very strong negotiating position," said board member Laura Anderson, who put the blame on the failure to execute an easement on Perry-Mansfield officials who never sent the proper paperwork to the district.
Board member John DeVincentis said the blame also falls on district officials who never followed up on the easement.
"Something should have been done. Somebody should have been paying attention to this," he said.
According to the easement, the school district may have been responsible for relocation of the pipe, but that agreement was never executed.
The grantor, "from time to time in the future require that the easement, and the sewer line located therein, or some part thereof, be relocated at the sole cost and expense of grantor in order to accommodate the development of the real property which is burdened by the easement," the agreement states.
"This is a very strong negotiating point for our School Board," DeVincentis said. "So regardless of their intentions or not, the common understanding I have is let the buyer beware. That buyer (Perry-Mansfield) isn't at a very strong negotiating stance."
Anderson noted that the intent of the easement was to allow Perry-Mansfield access across Strawberry Park property as part of a district effort to be a good community partner.
"I think the full responsibility, based on this, falls on them to relocate the line," she said. "I'm very confident Dr. Smyser can do that for us."
Board member Lisa Brown also is confident a solution will be found quickly and without any problems.
"The city, Perry-Mansfield and the school district worked together to get this all done at one time," she said. "We have a past history of getting all this done, and I think we can work together to do it once again."