Before it explodes out of control…

I guess it’s okay if the Crested Butte Community School expansion doesn’t start this year. But not really.
Here we go again.
Two friends meet up, smile and strike a deal. They’ve done deals before and it’s always pretty much worked out. I’ll give you this if you give me that kind of deal. Sure, there have been some misunderstandings and questions but the two friends have been neighbors for years and they aren’t going anywhere. They really know it is best to work together. And they do.

But… The Intergovernmental Agreement between the school district and the town of Crested Butte remains unsigned. For the twelfth week running, I have been assured the document everyone had hoped would be signed in November, is “close.” The architect and contractor are starting to sweat. Without the signed IGA, there is no point in starting the Crested Butte project as envisioned… the one we as a community voted for overwhelmingly.
There is frustration, mistrust, semantics, frustration, and more frustration coming out of these IGA dealings from all sides.

There’s no reason to point the finger of blame in any one direction.

It was always my understanding that an IGA is meant to set out the broad-brush strokes of a general agreement. I’ll do this if you do that. The fine details get worked out in site plan reviews, in BOZAR and between friends. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but show me one thing that ever does.

The current IGA document has more red lines than an aging alcoholic’s nose and the danger is that it is becoming as clear as the alcoholic’s mind on a Saturday morning. What should be a simple agreement between friends is now approaching 30 or 40 pages with legalese and contingencies about what will happen if the Earth starts to spin in a new counterclockwise direction. The town and the school district are approaching legal bills between them of close to $9,000 or $10,000 over this one document. The lawyers are working for the same clients: we the taxpayers.
This IGA appears to be turning into the site plan as well. But there is still a lot of prep work for a real site plan to be complete—surveys that need to be completed when the snow melts, for example.
It could be time for the mayor, Alan Bernholtz, and the school board president, MJ Vosburg, to pick up the phone and retake political control.
The politics of the IGA seems simple. Two friends, the town and the school district, agreed in principle to the following:

A. Given passage of the November bond issue, the town will give the school district land to expand the Crested Butte Community School building. The expansion will encroach on the Tommy V baseball field. The land will accommodate the expansion planned for the upcoming year… no more and no less.
B. The school district will build a new Tommy V baseball field on the land east of the school and be responsible for all that goes along with it, such as moving the current town barn.
C. The school district will make every effort to alleviate traffic on public roads around the school, including looking at the possibility of building an access road to the west of the school property.
D. The school district will obtain a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the main part of the newly built expansion.
E. The school district will take over maintenance responsibilities for school grounds.

I can see how perhaps those five elements could be confusing… between the Sunnis and the Shiites. But between the town and the school district? Come on. The town generously gives up the two acres of land. The school district replaces the ball field and pays for all related costs. The contractor builds the expansion to LEEDs. Maintenance responsibilities get shifted, Nordic skiers can still ski around the school to get to the poop loop, and everyone tries to make traffic less of a cluster. The kids get a better school and life goes on.
Feel free to cut out the previous paragraph or two and sign it. No charge.
I sensed trouble eight weeks ago and publicly asked the politicians to move it ahead. I still sense trouble brewing and before it explodes out of control I will again ask that the administrators, the lawyers and the elected officials finish this “friendly” deal. That means some reasonable give and take on both sides.
The rubber will meet the road March 2 when representatives of the school district come to the Crested Butte Town Council meeting.
The last thing anyone wants is finger pointing, the council getting their back up and feeling pushed into a corner and moving into “take it or leave it” mode; the school district feeling backed into a corner and telling the town to get Ninth Street off their property and demanding their property back that sits in Tommy V’s right field and so on…

I trust that by the meeting this Monday, the two friends will have an acceptable agreement that the mayor and the school board president can both sign… with a smile? Please.


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