Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs School District wants the developers of Steamboat 700 to give it 14 acres for a new elementary school - and cover half the cost of building the facility.
Interim Superintendent Sandra Smyser asked city officials for their support of the request in an April 16 letter to City Manager Alan Lanning and in a statement to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday. Smyser said the school district's demographer predicts Steamboat 700 will generate 306 students, including 128 elementary-grade students.
Danny Mulcahy, project manager of the 700-acre development west of city limits that proposes about 2,000 homes and hopes to be annexed into city limits, said he is open to a school, but he questioned the district's proposal.
"An elementary school does our project a lot of good," Mulcahy said. "Any master plan that can offer an elementary school for their residents to walk to is going to be nice. : I'm all for doing it. The question is, are there students to fill it? I don't want to dedicate land and have it sit empty for 30 years."
Mulcahy noted the fact that the district already owns a 35-acre parcel adjacent to his own. Smyser told council that the district hopes to reserve that land for other uses.
"Our reluctance to use that site is the demographic data that shows we will need another secondary school," Smyser said. "Those level buildings require much larger sites than elementary schools. : Fourteen acres is usually considered the standard size for an elementary school."
Mulcahy said he thinks the 35-acre parcel may be large enough to accommodate an elementary school and secondary school. Mulcahy also questioned the district's demographic data and the notion of paying for half of an elementary school's construction.
"There's only so much we can give for this to remain an affordable community," said Mulcahy, who noted other community requests such as police and fire stations, transit improvements and affordable housing.
Planning Services Manager John Eastman said meeting the needs of the school district would be considered in the cost-benefit analysis city officials will conduct in their review of the project. But the dedication of land and money for a school may not earn Steamboat 700 credit as a "public benefit" if officials determine it is basic infrastructure no different than roads and water lines.
"They're proposing a large-scale development that's going to produce a lot of children who need to go to school," Eastman said. "We expect them to work with the school district to mitigate the impacts of their development."
For additional coverage of the Steamboat Springs City Council's meeting Tuesday, see Thursday's edition of the Steamboat Today.