Crested Butte mayor Alan Bernholtz described the process as “painful.”
School board president MJ Vosburg said the project is a “huge leap of faith on both our parts.”
While it appears there is still some pain to endure, the two sides have decided to hold hands and take the leap of faith.
It certainly seems they are making it harder than it needs to be. But the issue approved by voters so overwhelmingly last fall will start on time and will provide a better school for the community.
Step A was supposed to be a broad Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). Step B would have been a construction plan with detail. Step C is a formal site plan taken through the BOZAR and town review process. They have started down a road where instead of A and B and C it is ABC. Could it have been simpler? Yes. Will it work? I think so.
After Monday’s meeting between the Crested Butte Town Council and representatives of the school district, I can’t see it not happening. That’s the good news.
The council asked for a deep well of “assurance” that the school district will finish the expansion and related projects. They want financial accounts set up with school monies to be released by the town. They want a solid budget forecast; they want not just traffic studies, but traffic solutions. The council members don’t want to transfer the land until the studies, surveys and changes to the project are made.
The council wants to make sure they are totally protected. They haven’t stated it directly but it’s been insinuated that some of the council members feel burned by the way things turned out with the Crested Butte Academy. Okay. They also have a right to feel a little skittish, given the time, effort, money and results of the proposed ice rink discussion. This public school district is a different animal but I understand the wariness.
Having sat in a council seat, I also know you can get caught in a trap when things start heading down a road you didn’t expect. I don’t think the council expected this IGA so filled with detail, negotiation and frustration. But now that they are there, they feel a need to just go ahead and finish out that path.
But here is the crux: In what seems to be a giant paradox given the focus on demands for “certainty” and “assurance” at Monday’s meeting, the council gave the verbal thumbs-up to the school district to break ground this spring… even if nothing is signed. Once the ground is broken, the light at the end of the tunnel to move students out of the current modular classrooms and into a state-of-the-art learning environment can’t be turned off. I want to see which councilperson will go to the site and tell the school district to stop building the classrooms after the first shovel of dirt is turned. Will they really take back their two acres once walls are going up? No. So the deal will go through and it will start on time. And, like everyone involved keeps saying, I too am confident it will end up a good project for the town, the school district and everyone involved. Thank you.
Could it have been done simpler? No doubt. Will it get done? I think so.