This is the property, known as the Overlook property, where the new Steamboat Springs High School will be located if voters approved a $92 million bond in November. The red outline in this graphic shows the majority of the property, which also extends further north, located off Downhill Drive along the western city limit of Steamboat Springs.

This is the property, known as the Overlook property, where the new Steamboat Springs High School will be located if voters approved a $92 million bond in November. The red outline in this graphic shows the majority of the property, which also extends further north, located off Downhill Drive along the western city limit of Steamboat Springs.

School Board will consider district's interest in 70-acre Yampa Valley Electric property

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— The Steamboat Springs School Board has called a special meeting at noon Wednesday to consider allowing the district to begin negotiations for the possible purchase of a 70-acre Yampa Valley Electric Association property on the western border of city limits.

The vacant property once approved for a residential subdivision called Overlook Park was purchased from Alpine Bank by YVEA in 2012 for $2.025 million.

The intent then was to someday move YVEA headquarters to the undeveloped property, but plans for the parcel changed with the cooperative’s move into new headquarters on Elk River Road in December.

A listing price has not yet been decided for the property, which will officially hit the market sometime in the next month, according to listing agent Cam Boyd, of Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty.

YVEA CEO Diane Johnson said the decision to list the parcel is unrelated to the Steamboat Springs School District's plans for capital construction.

“Until now, the property we refer to as Overlook has not been formally for sale. Last week, the YVEA board decided to put that property on the market,” Johnson said, via email. “After considering the potential of this parcel from a number of strategic perspectives, we’ve determined that it will not be needed for YVEA operations ... Our decision to put the property on the market now is unrelated to the school district’s planning process.”

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks toured the property with district Finance Director Dale Mellor and Board President Roger Good in February, and Meeks believes the location of would be more favorable to community members for a new school.

At 70 acres, the property is large enough to accommodate a new high school, the option most preferred by community members and staff at district facilities meetings over the past few months as a solution to increasing enrollment across the district.

Meeks, district-hired architects and an engineer have said numerous times at the meetings that the district is interested in exploring whatever potential properties in town might be available for school construction, in addition to district owned parcels on Whistler Road and near the Steamboat II subdivision.

Many community members at a May 12 facilities meeting said they supported the idea of building a new high school, but not on the Steamboat II property.

Johnson said YVEA does not see the sale as a pressing matter, and the financial strength of the organization will allow it to negotiate an appropriate agreement for the sale of the property.

“This may happen quickly or take some time; we will thoughtfully consider offers, should we receive them, and ultimately determine the best course of action to serve our members into the future,” Johnson said.

The school board met in executive session Monday to discuss interest in a property, but a decision to authorize negotiations must be made during an open board meeting.

The school board’s special meeting begins at noon at the district office board room, 325 Seventh St.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

Comments

Russell scott 1 year, 4 months ago

Inasmuch as the Steamboat II property is a good choice, for the right price this 70 acre parcel would be a great location for a new High School.

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Joey Andrew 1 year, 4 months ago

Please let me know what you think about this location for a new school.

Joey Andrew Director of District 2 jandrew@ssk12.org 970-439-1904

Although I am a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board, the views I express are my own and may or may not be shared by my fellow Directors.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

I think this site makes a lot of sense.for the school district. It makes a lot more sense than the Whistler, SB II or Pine St parcels. All of which should be sold as unusable for future schools.

The key is whether the school district can have the fiscal self control to avoid a $100M construction spree and limit itself to building a 300 student elementary school on the parcel. That is what is needed now. It should be designed so that it could be expanded and changed to other grade levels.

The last 10 years of demographic reports demonstrate the difficultly of predicting future student enrollment in SB. In 2004/5/8, the demographic reports predicted a 2% annual increase in students as the overall result of declining enrollment from existing housing and an influx of new residents due to SB 700 being built. According to those reports, by now SB 700 would be approaching build out. The price of existing housing was projected as being too expensive for young families with kids.

The 2004/5/8 demographics reports got the trends completely wrong. SB 700, Elk River affordable housing and so on were not built. We had a major recession which reduced the prices of existing housing and we attracted younger families with kids into existing housing. So instead of the number of students declining from existing housing as predicted, it has increased over the past 10 decade.

The school district should take the lesson that future enrollment trends are unpredictable. We do know that the price of existing SB housing has stopped falling and is increasing again. We do not know if young families with kids will be able to continue moving in. It is a well recognized trend that more expensive housing tends to be bought by older families with the time to acquire the wealth. Where we are on that progression between affordable and not affordable for younger families is not known and not even mentioned in the recent demographic reports. We also do not know if development in SB 700 will occur in the next 10 years. Stagecoach has the vacant lots for a greater population than SB 700 and it seems we accept that most of those students would attend SB schools.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

It seems predictable that about every 10 years that the school district will want to do construction projects to either build additional schools or remodel existing schools. Thus, it would make sense and reduce the interest costs if construction projects had 10 years bonds. That way each round would be getting paid off as the next round is being considered. Thus, this should be a $33M round of school construction, not a $100M. We certainly do not need a new high school today.

Thus, I think it makes sense to buy the YVEA parcel and build a 300 student elementary school there today that is designed so that it be the starting point of a future high school. And in 10 years we see what we need.

And, in the meantime, get Triple Crown to assist building lots of fields on the rest of the parcel so we get back our local parks during the summer and our students have lots of fields during the school year.

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Russell scott 1 year, 4 months ago

Scott Wedel, I agree that this is a good idea and I like your ideas about selling the other properties and the field usage. However, I think we need to build a High School. The overcrowding problems are with both the elementary and middle school. A High School would solve those issues because the current High School and some other reshuffling would take up the slack. I hope the YVEA doesn't try to overcharge the School District. Hech, given that our electric bills keep going up, they should give it away and use it as a write off.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Russell,

The new elementary school could take students from Strawberry Park so 6th graders could be at Strawberry Park Elementary and at the new elementary school. That solves the middle school issue.

The high school doesn't have a crowding issue. Just an unjustified statement that they want a gym big enough for all students to attend. But that is an awful lot of money to be able to hold an assembly attended by every student.

In six or seven years then we can see what demographic trends are happening and the state of local development to determine what to do next. The lesson of demographic reports should be is that they haven't a clue of what happen in the future. Things normally don't change that much from one year to the next so the errors in a report's projections is not so much for the next five years. But after that the compounding error becomes larger than the underlying prediction.

The idea that we could do a $100M in projects of a new school and changes to existing schools so we will be good for the next 20+ years is a fantasy.

A new high school with plenty of land for athletic fields would be nice, but it is not needed now.

And the quality of the school building has been found to have almost no effect on children's learning. There is zero evidence that test scores improve after remodeling a school or in a new school.

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Russell scott 1 year, 4 months ago

Scott Wedel, does the school district have to go to the voters for more tax money every time they do a new project? I could agree with you on starting small then adding more facilities later if that doesn't create more cost in the long run. I agree with your assessment of demographic studies.

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Russell scott 1 year, 4 months ago

Scott Bideau, I am going to hold you to your promise to be here another 20 years.😀 Then again, according to the social security calculator I am not expected to live that long.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

"Unfortunately we have about $25 million in capital maintenance across the various existing schools that needs done in part because prior initiatives have set a dollar amount and scoped to fit"

There is always an unlimited list of deferred maintenance items that are low enough priority to not have been done yet. So a big part of that list doesn't need to be done.

Second, so every 10 years we are going to need a $25M bond to pay for deferred maintenance? That is $2.5M a year in deferred maintenance. It makes no sense to put deferred maintenance on a 30 year bond since it will be far sooner than 30 years before we have another huge amount of deferred maintenance.

The longest that anyone should propose placing a bond for deferred maintenance is 7 years. Otherwise, we are soon enough going to be paying on a stack of bonds to pay for deferred maintenance and soon enough people are going to stop accepting using bonds to pay for deferred maintenance.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 3 months ago

100,000,000 is 4000 per every man, woman, child, and infant in the county. Not a big number by the federal government gauge but a lot of debt. The school board needs to find a less expensive way to survive. I attended elementary school with a class of 30 to 35 in an a modular in Houston Texas in the 50's and although some would say I am permanently scarred mentally, I doubt this is what caused it.

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Russell scott 1 year, 3 months ago

Jerry Carlton, I understand the sticker shock. It's hard to understand all the things schools need these days and all the federal and state requirements. I'm for what the school board recommends because of my Grandkids. They've already benefited from special help that wasn't available to us when we were kids. When we grew up our special help came by a paddle, detention and F's that actually failed you. I too spent time in a modular and it didn't hurt me. In our day Graduation rates were higher and most kids were ready for college after graduation. I'm not convinced all the bells and whistles make kids any smarter but kids these days grow up so differently. Culture has dramatically changed. Many more come from broken homes. My parents told me teachers were always right. These days teachers are considered mostly wrong. These days they need computer labs, Spanish learning centers, counseling services and much more. It's a different world. For me, I guess I simply want to be apart of something bigger than myself, to do something that will benefit the families here in Steamboat, and to work with those who believe this will benefit the kids. My decision has more to do with being part of a team that is interested in making Steamboat that special place to raise kids.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

We can't just say yes to everything because of the kids.

It is well documented that newer fancier buildings have minimal, if any, impact upon learning. We do need functional buildings, but more important than various luxuries is maintaining the financial strength of the district and region. If we have a $100M 30 year bond then our options in the future become greatly limited. It means that it becomes much harder to build what is needed in 10 years and again in 20 years.

If we were honest, we'd have 10 year bonds for this round of construction and see if we are willing to pay for that.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 3 months ago

Scott W I am with you on this one.

Russell Scott I accept most of what you say but I think there is a big difference between legitimate "needs" and nice to have wants.

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Russell scott 1 year, 3 months ago

Jerry Carlton, I hear you and have agreed with your point of view all of my life. This is a tough one for me and I totally respect your opinion.

For me it's personal. Ever since I joined the Army at 18, I have never lived anywhere for more than 4 years. For the first time in my life I have a real desire to play an active part in this Steamboat community and to call this place home. I want my girls to have a place they call home. I just don't want to sit on the sidelines. I want to contribute in a positive way with the many parents who want this to happen. Again this is personal and I respect where you are coming from.

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Russell scott 1 year, 3 months ago

Scott Wedel, I agree that there is zero correlation between money spent on schools and higher test scores. In fact studies make it clear American students are falling further behind other countries throughout the world. What we are learning is that kids who come from homes with concerned involved parents there is a much greater success rate. Money thrown at schools doesn't solve the problems at home.

What I like about Steamboat is that there is a large group of concerned active parents volunteering at schools, who are involved in their kids life, and who move here so their kids will benefit from all Steamboat offers. I see these parents and their kids out skiing, out playing soccer, at the ice rink and so on. Many more parents are volunteering in the outdoor activities making this community a great place for children. The dedication to the welfare of children here in Steamboat is fantastic. Because of the parent involvement the success of their children at school is more likely than not.

Personally, as I have stated before I want to be an active participant in this community and to be apart of the "team" if you will. If these parents want a new school I want to work with them. This is something bigger than me and something I want to be apart of.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

Russell,

So why accept spending whatever they request on new schools?

I consider myself as supporting the local schools. I think that a $100M 30 year bond is not free money. That it is so big that it cause problems in about 10 years when the next school remodeling or construction will be needed.

And the fact that $25M is for deferred maintenance should be deeply concerning. That is some mixture of school board failing to maintain their vital infrastructure, and items that were unimportant but would be nice if there is huge sums of money sloshing around.

I'm told that local school don't have air conditioning. So how many millions for that for how few days a year where it would matter? I went to schools in a warmer climate with no air conditioning. There they circulated air at night so it was cool in the morning and they mostly sealed up the building and put up shades to block the sun. It was also a lesson in planning and discipline since the rooms could be kept okay. A few times in the afternoon we'd go outside in the shade

And there should be nothing wrong teaching the kids that unlimited money on something rarely needed does not make financial sense. That saving money is also a good idea.

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Russell scott 1 year, 3 months ago

Scott Wedel, you make a very compelling argument. I am going to do my best to look at those cost saving ideas you have presented and compare them to what the School Board presents. I don't want the community to spend a dime more than they have too. One thing I don't want to do is revisit this 10 years from now, when the cost of borrowing money goes up, and we have to go to the community again with another plan. I didn't follow the Soda Creek planning years ago but it seems they planned too small and have no ability to expand. Ultimately I want to support the final plan but if I think the Board is unrealistic I will speak up.

And your point about teaching the kids about money. You know how to make a guy feel guilty with that good common sense. Indeed, that is something our schools need to teach. Before graduating they should know how to balance a checkbook. They should be taught how to save money, to invest and how to be an entrepreneur. Never should they go to college with a credit card. Personally, now that I get to raise children again I would rather they work at McDonald's and learn a good work ethic than get A's on their report cards.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 3 months ago

Air Conditioning! Are you kidding me? There are million dollar houses in this town without air conditioning.

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Russell scott 1 year, 3 months ago

Jerry, I don't remember air conditioning in my modular. Did you have it in yours? And I grew up in Southern California. Did they have air conditioning in the late 50's and 60's? Kids these days, they have it pretty nice especially when Scott Wedel is advocating air conditioning for them. 🍦

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

I was told by someone on the committee on what is needed for the schools that a major problem today is the lack of air conditioning and that is included in the proposed projects.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

Russell,

There is nothing wrong with expecting another round of building construction in 10 years. By then the kids will probably just sit anyplace, look at their cell phones and tap away at their homework and tests so we just build a big room with a bunch of couches.

On a more serious note, predicting trends 10 years out is unlikely to be very accurate. SB 700 and Stagecoach could be booming or be little changed.

A local charter high school could serve as a gateway to home schooling which entitles them to substantial per pupil funding. Considering the amount of good material including lessons on the internet then school learning could be restructured to be free instruction and some individual tutoring without the huge overhead of public schools.

It is simply unwise to build today expecting to have nailed it for the next 15-20 years.

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Russell scott 1 year, 3 months ago

Scott, it may not be all that far fetched to find kids gathered in one big room working on their phones and computers. Will "brick and mortar" schools soon be a thing of the past? Malls are being shut down all over the country as more people are shopping online. The outrageous cost to build schools compared to learning online is something I have thought about. If I thought my kids were struggling in such a way that an online education would be better I would seriously think of pulling them out. Many kids are already opting out for an online education. Heck if one can have a "location neutral" job why not get a "location neutral" education?

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jerry carlton 1 year, 3 months ago

Russell To tell you the truth, I can not remember if our schools or modular were air conditioned. I do not think so as I was in the first grade in 1950. I remember our first house was air conditioned by two window units. one in the living room and one in my parents bedroom. I had a fan in my room. This was Houston, Texas. 95 degrees, 98% humidity for 5 or more months of the year. School was out May31 and restarted Tuesday after Labor day. Week off at Christmas but no spring breaks. In 17 years in Routt County, I have lived in 3 different residences, none of which were air conditioned. To even propose air conditioning in Steamboat Schools shows how out of control spending peoples tax dollars is. I am hoping Scott Bideau will come in here and tell us that is a false rumor.

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