School board president MJ Vosburg came in to the Crested Butte Town Council meeting with her pen, ready to ink a deal. The idea was to sign her two initials, give a few hugs and then go to dinner. She didn’t get to use her pen and she missed dinner, but she did pass out a few hugs. The IGA (Intergovernmental Agreement) marathon between the school district and the town is almost over.
After more lengthy discussions Monday night the Town Council members finally agreed to the Crested Butte Community School expansion on paper.
They had already agreed to the expansion in their hearts. Before anything was signed, the council had gone so far as to tell the school district they could start work this spring.
When first approached by the district last summer about donating town land for the expansion, the council stepped up to the plate without hesitation. Not everyone would have done that. The council deserves some positive credit.
But like in any deal, the devil was in the details. What could have been a solid but simple IGA turned into basically a construction contract. The lawyers on each side battled each other (and sometimes their clients) on behalf of their respective boards. Town manager Susan Parker and school superintendent Jon Nelson met several times a week for months to hammer and re-hammer details. The IGA turned into a 50-page document. When things were looking particularly bleak at the end of the ski season, mayor Alan Bernholtz and the school board president MJ Vosburg got together, took control of the reins, pulled everyone back, and hammered out the bumps that couldn’t seem to go away.
“Both sides are giving and making a departure from where they probably want to be in this agreement,” stated the town’s attorney, John Belkin.
That can’t be easy for an attorney to admit.
At Monday’s meeting, at the last minute, Bernholtz brought up every question he could think of or he could remember that someone had asked him. The staffs said they’d considered every one of them. This wasn’t some quick and dirty deal.
Not one person looking over the final plan Monday evening said it was perfect. Everyone, in fact, said it wasn’t. But that is okay.
There have been hours and hours of sincere, hard work in this process. The public spoke often and was heard. So long, lights on the baseball field. Hello, some sort of fence along Red Lady Avenue.
The council had trust in the staff and lawyers. The final version of the IGA wasn’t even given to the council until after Monday’s meeting started and changes were made during the meeting. But with the exception of councilman Reed Betz who stated a preference for voting for something that was complete, the council gave its backing and a couple of acres of land to the school district.
Now the real work will begin. And no one should pretend more issues won’t surface during construction, and even more issues will be discovered after the expansion is finished. If you wait for perfect, nothing will ever get done.
MJ will get to use that pen officially next Monday when the ceremonial signing is done at the school board meeting.
Two years of construction will get under way in the next few weeks. Riding the wave of overwhelming public approval, there will be an improved place of learning for our kids. It may not be perfect but it ain’t bad. That says something good for a community.
So after all the headaches, stress and frustration, here’s a shout out to the Town Council, the school board, BOZAR, the administrators and staffs… yes, even the lawyers. Thank you. This community just got a bit better thanks to all of your efforts.