“Let’s be visionary”
The feelers are out to expand the Crested Butte Community School onto town property and the Tommy V. ball field, adjacent to the school. After getting the okay from the Crested Butte Town Council, the Gunnison Watershed RE1J school board plans to meet with its architects and explore the possibility of proceeding with plans for a major expansion to the south. School board representatives will bring back a more detailed expansion plan to the council next month.
Superintendent Jon Nelson and school board president MJ Vosburg outlined expansion plans for the council Monday night, July 7 at the regular Town Council meeting. The board hopes voters will pass a bond issue this fall to fund an expansion of the Community School, along with other improvements within the entire school district.
“Right now we are having classes on the stage, in the cafeteria, in closets,” said Vosburg. “Throughout history, the town and the school have worked together. Without the town, the current school would not have been able to be built.”
Nelson outlined the basics of two options. Option A would keep any expansion on the “current site as we know it. There would be classroom additions and another gymnasium. There are some concerns with this plan, including that there is no more additional parking.”
Vosburg said Option A would work, but it maxes out any future expansion.
“Option B has a nicer flow and also adds classrooms and another gym in a different configuration,” said Nelson. “But it expands onto the current Tommy V field by home plate, and we understand there is some sensitivity with that. This option offers the potential for future expansion and adds parking. It also includes things like a full-size track and a bus garage.”
Tommy V field is named after longtime local ball player Tommy Villanueva, who was killed in an accident in 2002.
“We can squish the expansion onto where we are,” admitted Vosburg, “but we have had feedback to explore other options. We are here tonight to see if the council feels the school is an important enough part of the community to make this happen and relocate the field.”
Vosburg continued, “We have had some discussions with the Villanueva family and it is important to them to service the kids. They want to make sure the field is still good for the kids. We would want to make sure the field is rebuilt with that in mind. Right now the school has one gym taking care of the kids in the elementary, the middle and the high schools. Servicing the local kids is important to us as well.”
Vosburg said she didn’t expect the council to give her a definitive answer about the expansion options that night. “This is exciting to me,” she told the council. “If you want to see it happen and we want to see it happen, it will work. This is Crested Butte.”
Councilmember Billy Rankin asked about energy efficiency and the possibility of having the school expansion certified to leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) standards. “Our current code requires anything over 20,000 square feet to have a LEED certification.”
To obtain a LEED certification, a building must meet certain environmental requirements. “Our architects have designed buildings to LEED standards before,” said Nelson.
“I am excited about this,” said councilman Skip Berkshire. “If we can open up a traffic corridor on the front side to access the planned recreational facilities beyond the school such as an ice rink, that’s great. Option B gives the area another parking lot. It would take a lot of pressure off the current residents over on Red Lady Avenue as far as traffic.” Berkshire said he would also like to see any new Tommy V ball field stay in the same area.
Mayor Alan Bernholtz was for expanding the school, “but I am wary to give it a thumbs-up without a more complete plan for the town ranch. We just built dugouts over there. What happens in five years? If we can’t figure it out better, I would say go with Option A. I need to see a more detailed plan before I’d say go for it.”
Vosburg suggested the school board architects get together with representatives of the school board and town staff, put some ideas together, and come back before the Town Council.
“Let’s think this through and not build something in a bad place,” said Bernholtz. “I think we need to be visionary.”
Nelson and Vosburg said the school is expecting to get price estimates for both Option A and Option B later this week. Option B is expected to be more expensive, especially with the added cost of replacing Tommy V field. Vosburg indicated the school representatives would be back to the council with some more comprehensive plans in August.