Despite being voted down at Pinedale’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting last week, the building permit for the new elementary school of Sublette County School District #1 (SCSD) was unanimously approved at the Pinedale Town Council meeting on Monday evening.
“We are on a very tight timeframe to try to open this school,” said SCSD superintendent Doris Woodbury. “And moving ahead as expeditiously as possible is very important to us.”
SCSD hopes to begin dirt work at the site this month, which is located on 23 acres of land that was purchased from the BloomField developer.
Initially, the school district planned to open the proposed $23 million school in August of 2011, but changes in the construction and design plan have moved that date ahead a year, which has caused other problems to arise, including street access.
“They told us at our meeting that if Haymaker (Land Holding) doesn’t get that street paved by the time the buses are supposed to start running, then the school will have to pay,” said P&Z commission member Barbara Boyce, citing last week’s discussion.
When SCSD bought the 23-acre parcel from the developer Haymaker, the two parties drew up a contract stating that the roads would be completed by the time the school was finished.
“Our contract says this has to be done by August 2011,” said Vern McAdams, SCSD business manager. “And that’s because we ordered it under the traditional design process.”
SCSD has since adopted a design-build approach, which will expedite the school’s completion, moving the opening date to August of 2010.
As a contingency plan, the school district has secured an easement off Ehman Lane, from the northwest side of the property, which will be funded by the district if the developer does not complete road access by next fall.
“I imagine the developer will make every effort possible, because that school there will be a very, very big feather in the cap of the development,” said councilman Dave Smith.
“Absolutely,” replied Matt Harber, owner of Haymaker.
Another issue discussed was the proposed school’s size.
The current elementary school is built to serve about 300 children, but with 504 still attending by the school year’s end, SCSD has had to establish four classrooms in modulars behind the main building. Fifth-graders were also moved to the middle school this year.
The new school will be built to house up to 570 students, and it will be built to last 50 years.
“If we don’t have a bust, it’s going to be full the day you open the doors,” said councilman Smith. “If we do have a bust, you may have 400 kids.”
“Every year, the numbers are increasing,” said McAdams, citing the fact that the elementary has almost doubled in size in the last five years. “I do think we’ll slow down a bit.
“We wanted 600 (capacity), but (570) is what (the state’s) guidelines will allow at this time.”
At last week’s P&Z meeting, members of the commission voiced doubt that the school’s enrollment would continue to increase, since the slowdown in energy development has undermined the job security for some local families.
During the council meeting, the question was also posed as to what would happen to the existing school structures.
“One of the things that we had to submit to the school facility was a way to reduce our overall footprint,” said Woodbury. “We’ll be looking at structure and mechanical systems and electrical systems, and making decisions about what we will keep and what we will tear down.”
During the commission meeting, SCSD construction manager Dennis Seipp said it’s probable that some of the older portions of the high school will be torn down.
“I really feel that we need this school,” said councilwoman Nylla Kunard. “And we need to get on with it. We can discuss this over and over and over, and we’re still going to have problems.”
With that, Kunard made a motion to approve the building permit, and all members of the council, as well as Mayor Stephen Smith, voted in support of the permit.
— A request for a setback variance by Ryan Steinbrenner was denied by the council.
Steinbrenner was hoping to build a garage within five feet of his property line, though the town ordinance requires seven.
“I see this as mostly convenience,” said councilman Dave Hohl. “I don’t see any extenuating circumstances, and I see a number of ways you can accommodate this garage.”
— The Sublette County Chamber of Commerce was given approval for street closure during Rendezvous Days.
From 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, until 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 12, Tyler St. will be closed from Pine St. to Magnolia.
— JK Lee was given final plat approval for an amendment adding 30 more feet to the southern property line, located at 1220 Wilson St.
— The council gave Andy Nelson approval to organize the return of Rendezvous Shootouts at this year’s Rendezvous Days, which could involve staged and impromptu gunfights in Pinedale, all using blanks, of course.
“Make sure there’s lots of tourists around that aren’t paying attention,” joked councilman Smith.
— The next Pinedale Town Council meeting will be held on Monday, June 22.For the complete article see the 06-12-2009 issue.
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