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Trustees OK child care center, OK budget

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John Colson

Sopris Sun Correspondent

Carbondale is about to become the new home of the Faith Lutheran Church Child Care Center, which is moving from a previous location in Glenwood Springs to a new site at the juncture of Eighth Street, Merrill Avenue and the Rio Grande Trail, a short distance to the northwest of Town Hall.

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The center is approved for 15 children initially with the understanding that the number of kids could go as high as 28 starting in the center’s second year of operations.

The special use permit approved by the trustees gives the child care center a three-year operating permit.

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The structure, at 788 Merrill Ave., is a house built in 1885 that is owned by Carbondale resident Bill Roberts and the Roberts Land & Cattle Co, and has been used as an office since the 1980s, according to application documents presented at the Dec. 9 meeting of the board of trustees.

Although technically licensed as a child care center, because it will be an all-day operation, the facility is to be called the Faith Lutheran Pre-school. Pre-schools, under state law, can only offer half-day care for children, according to the application documents.

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Paul Menter, president of the Faith Lutheran Church and chair of a local early-leaning advocacy organization, spoke in support of the relocation.

“I think it’s repositioned at a great location,” Menter said, “with all the young families in Carbondale.”

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The trustees unanimously approved the proposal, with Trustee Pam Zentmyer recusing herself from the deliberations because, as a neighbor, she received formal notice of the project.

“I think it’s a wonderful use of the space,” enthused Trustee Katrina Byars. “I think you’re meeting an essential community need.”

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Mayor Stacey Bernot said she, too, is “excited” to see the facility move into Carbondale.

Both Byars and the mayor expressed concern, however, about the possibility of children walking on or across Merrill Avenue, which is not served by a sidewalk, and about the likelihood of a herd of cars converging on the facility, idling as they wait every morning and evening to drop kids off and pick them up.

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But planning consultant Mark Chain assured the trustees that there will be adequate parking and maneuvering room to accommodate the traffic, both at the 15-student level and later, when the number of children rises.

In other action on Tuesday night the trustees:

• Gave final approval for the 2015 municipal budget, which calls for spending $6.3 million in the general fund to cover day-to-day operations of the town. The budget includes a three-percent cost of living raise for town employees, or a raise commensurate with the results of a salary survey conducted earlier this year. The general fund expenditures, according to budget documents, are generally divided among personnel (62 percent), operations and maintenance (32 percent), and capital projects (2 percent). Acting on a suggestion from Mayor Bernot, the trustees also approved an expenditure of $500 out of the 2014 budget for a donation to cover the costs of maintaining a veterans memorial in the city of Rifle.

• Granted license renewals to the Rocky Mountain High medical marijuana and recreational marijuana cultivation and sales operations.

• Granted a Special Events liquor license for a Thompson Divide Coalition “friend-raising” event, scheduled for Dec. 13 at the Bonfire coffee shop and the Crystal Theater, both in the Dinkle Building on Main Street.

• Granted an extension of the filing period for a final plat of the Thompson Park development along Highway 133, setting the filing deadline at Feb. 27, 2015. The town is scheduled to take possession of the historic Thompson House at the time of the filing of the final plat, and developer Frieda Wallison informed the trustees at the meeting that she has plans to break ground on the project next spring. The trustees also discussed the intersection of the main access road into the Thompson Park development and Highway 133, which could  ultimately become either a signalized intersection or a roundabout. The fate of the intersection depends largely on what happens with a planned school-district housing project slated for the old middle school athletic fields across Highway 133 from Thompson Park.

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