By Will Grandbois
Sopris Sun Correspondent
On Tuesday night, after extensive public input and some deliberation, the Carbondale Board of Trustees opted for a compromise in their recommendation to Garfield County on Colorado Rocky Mountain School’s application for the county to vacate the part of County Road 106 that runs through the school campus.
The motion for a compromise was made by trustee Frosty Merriott, then seconded and heavily modified by trustee Allyn Harvey.
The motion, which the trustees approved 4-1, states that the right-of-way should only be vacated if pedestrian access is allowed to continue through the school, or an alternative path is created along the eastern boundary of the school’s property.
John Foulkrod cast the dissenting vote, with Stacey Bernot absent and Elizabeth Murphy — who is a grant writer for CRMS — abstaining.
Foulkrod also made a motion to allow CRMS to close the campus without additional conditions, but was unable to sway the rest of the board. “I’ve learned you can’t accommodate everyone in Carbondale,” he told the assembly. “You have to have some trust and CRMS will do the right thing.”
The Jan. 28 trustees meeting saw more CRMS supporters than at a Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss the issue on Jan. 16, when the school was represented mostly by the applicants.
The P&Z voted 5-2 against the request following input from the school and public. At the trustees meeting, officials from the school were joined by CRMS parents, faculty, and even a pair of students. Several Satank residents and some on Dolores Way were also in attendance to reiterate their concerns about the plans, while community members unaffiliated with either group seemed roughly split on the issue.
Trustee Pam Zentmyer emphasized the need for dialogue between the opposing viewpoints. “I’m a little disappointed to see that there hasn’t been a whole lot of dialogue between these two groups outside of meetings like this,” she said. While several community members also spoke in favor of compromise, the majority of comments fell strongly on one side or the other.
Supporters of the vacation cited student safety in the post-Columbine High School era as an absolute necessity, while opponents contended that student safety could be obtained without ceding public access through the campus.
In the end, the trustees decision didn’t seem to satisfy those at either extreme.
The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission will likely hear from the public once again when it formulates its recommendation for the county commissioners on February 12.
Here are a few quotes from the night: