Schools talk sewer line move

Strawberry Park Elementary, Perry-Mansfield discuss project costs

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— Negotiations continue this week concerning which school will pay for the repositioning of a sewer line found under the Strawberry Park Elementary School expansion during construction in the spring.

The main sewer line, which was put in place by and serves Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, ran under the addition to Strawberry Park Elementary School, forcing the district to move the line at a cost of $19,000.

"We were concerned that by having a building over the sewer line, the weight of the building could crush the line," District Finance Director Dale Mellor said.

District officials now are in talks with the Perry-Mansfield board of directors to recover construction costs.

Mellor reported to the Steamboat Springs School Board three possible options: splitting the cost and potentially having the nonprofit Perry-Mansfield pay the district back throughout time, requiring Perry-Mansfield to pay for the move entirely or absorbing the cost to be able to tap into the sewer line in the future.

The district potentially could use the line if the district chooses to expand the school to the north, but there are no plans to do so.

"We're all encouraged that we can work this out. It has just taken some time to sort out the details, but we're all communicating very well," said Gary Cogswell, Perry-Mansfield board member and director of the facilities committee.

The district initially paid for the move to complete construction, and the sewer line did not delay construction, Mellor said, because the building was in place by the time the line was moved.

Cogswell, who has been involved in the negotiations, said he was appreciative of the district's willingness to work with Perry-Mansfield, especially considering the camp's nonprofit status.

"Budgets are tight for everybody, and our budgets are extremely tight at Perry-Mansfield, so we asked for the opportunity to look at this and figure out the best way for all parties to handle it," he said. "The (Steamboat Springs) school system and the school board have been very patient to let us take a look at this and study the situation and work out an arrangement for us to get our responsibilities taken care of here. "

During his report to the board, Mellor said the original move of the sewer line was reported in the Steamboat Pilot & Today before he was able to contact Perry-Mansfield representatives, but board members said they were not disturbed by the sequence of events.

"I think that went fairly fast. It was a highly compressed construction project for them. For all I know, they were trying to" contact us, said Clay Ogden, president of the Perry-Mansfield board.

Ogden said he initially was told of the move through a fellow board member after the report in the newspaper, but it did not change his perception.

"That's certainly never been an issue that has bothered me," he said. "It is what it is, so we'll deal with it."

- To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

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