Cottonwood Park is, hands-down, the best site for a new school |

Cottonwood Park is, hands-down, the best site for a new school

I read the March 24 letter by Bill and Nancy Doorninck about their concerns over the proposed Cottonwood Park site for a new Silverthorne Elementary School.

I appreciate the concerns for child safety and possible impacts on the Hamilton Creek Road access to their home.

We need a new school to eliminate overcrowding at both the Dillon Valley and Silverthorne elementary schools. After meeting with school officials and discussing the options available to the school district, I believe that the Cottonwood Park site is, hands-down, the best location.

The reality of it is the Silver Mountain site is gone. I agree it would have been a wonderful site for a new school. For five years, the town and the school district tried to make it happen, but it’s gone. This leaves the school district with two options for improving a building that has long outlived its effectiveness – rebuild on the current site or build on the Cottonwood Park site.

The current site has many problems that make it less than desirable. The physical location is compromised by drainage and soil stability issues; increasing construction costs. The location of the site places the building in the shade for a majority of the school year, reducing the amount on natural light available in the classroom and decreasing any natural solar gain for heating the building.

It also is a much more effective use of resources to build a new facility, than it is to remodel the existing building, giving us more for less.

The Cottonwood Park site has many attributes that make it the preferred choice. The location will allow the school district to build a facility that will meet the needs of the community for the next 15 to 20 years. Yes, with continued growth on the north side of the county, another elementary school will probably need to be built in the next 25 years.

By going with new construction, it can be a state-of-the-art facility, better serving the educational needs of our children. The site can be developed with recreational facilities that are much more user-friendly than those available at the current location and the site can be developed in conjunction with the Cottonwood Park recreational site, making it a great community resource.

The main concerns over the Cottonwood Park site from the residents of South Forty and Hamilton Creek appear to be related to parking, emergency vehicle access and the safety of children who are walking to school.

Addressing the parking and access concerns first: The school district already agreed to make Hamilton Creek Road, along and past the school, a three-lane road. This will maintain the safe traffic flow throughout drop-off and pick-up times, and allow access to emergency vehicles at all times.

In regards to cars parking on the road and blocking emergency vehicles from accessing the two neighborhoods, the school district will be building additional parking to help with overflow parking.

With the additional parking, there will be more than 200 parking spaces at the school. This will be almost four times the amount of parking at the current site.

According to the school administration, there are only three or four events a year where this much parking will even be close to being fully utilized, and therefore no reason for any cars to be parking on the road.

As mentioned above, the school district is also planning on making the road in front of the school three lanes wide, ensuring access to the neighborhoods even when school or special events are in session.

The safety for children walking to school is a primary concern for all of us. Under Colorado law, if there are potential dangers – such as Highway 9 and the Blue River – the school must provide transportation.

These same dangers exist no matter where the school is located. These hazards will not disappear if the school is kept at its current location. This is why the school district provides bus transportation to 99 percent of our elementary-aged school children.

For those that do walk, there is a crossing guard at the intersection of Highway 9 at Eddie Bear’s gas station. With the new traffic light proposed at the school entrance, the same crossing guard service will be provided. If we are that concerned about the children walking to school, why isn’t there a sidewalk from the corner of Eddie Bear’s down to the trailer park?

Instead of “making your objections known,” please get the information and make an informed decision.

The north end of the county needs a new elementary school, and I believe that the Cottonwood Park location is the best location for the community.

We welcome all constructive comments at the town council meeting on Wednesday, but know the facts before making a knee-jerk reaction.

For those residents of Hamilton Creek and South Forty who are concerned about driving past the school every day, I would ask you to consider the following: Is the five minutes you will save by not having the school at Cottonwood Park really worth having the school built on an inferior site?

For those of you who no longer have school-aged children, please remember how passionately you were concerned about your children’s education when you did.

Please come and support the Cottonwood Park site as the best location for the new school.

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