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School wants answer on Silverthorne elementary site

Jane Reuter

SILVERTHORNE – School officials say the Silverthorne Council’s Wednesday motion to continue annexation proceedings on Silver Mountain Village is nice, but not necessarily reassuring. The school district has been guaranteed a 10-acre site within the village for a new elementary school, but their deadline for securing a site is drawing precariously close, and Silver Mountain Village hasn’t made significant progress toward gaining final approval.

“We need that school,” said Summit Schools Superintendent Wes Smith. “We’d like to have it today. The sooner we have the new building, the sooner we facilitate better learning conditions. We need to be able to get some absolute commitments from the developer.”

The town council essentially de-linked Silver Mountain from the Blue River Club Wednesday, when it voted not to continue annexation proceedings on the Blue River Club, but to go ahead with the village annexation. Until Wednesday, both developments had moved through the town’s processes as one.

The Blue River Club is a proposed high-end private golf course community. Silver Mountain Village, conceived as a locals’ development, is slated to include 192 housing units, a grocery store, school site and day-care site.

“It seems to me the de-linking is a good thing,” Smith said. “But our concern is that the infrastructure won’t be in a timely way. That requires a lot of confidence in the developer. We can’t just build a building and then hope that the rest of the support for that building – roads, sewer – is going to be there when it’s necessary. We have to have legal assurance that it’s going to be there and that the funding is going to be dedicated to it.”

The school district has $12 million to put toward a new Silverthorne Elementary School, granted to it by voters through a November 2001 election. The school’s preferred site for that school is in Silver Mountain Village, but district officials say they also could build on the existing elementary school property.

This week, school officials had their first meeting on the elementary school’s design.

“The architects were saying that after meeting number three, we need to get site-specific,” Smith said. “That (third meeting) will be in July.”

Tom Warnes, who owns much of the land proposed for both the Blue River Club and Silver Mountain Village developments, says he’s ready now to give the town a deed for the 10 acres of school land. He hopes that will give school district officials the assurance they need to proceed with planning the school at Silver Mountain Village.

But Silverthorne Community Development Director Mark Leidal said the school site is on land that is now in the county, not in Silverthorne, so that can’t legally be done. He prefers to stick with the town’s processes, which include annexing that land as well as approving the village development plans.

“The best case is to get the entirety of Silver Mountain Village to the point where we’re ready to approve the project,” he said. “We know the school site is an important issue and we’re working as hard as we can to make sure the project proceeds in a timely manner. I think allowing Silver Mountain to move forward was one of those steps.”

Leidal said the ball is now back in the developer’s court.

Developers are shooting for a spring 2003 groundbreaking on Silver Mountain Village.

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com


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