Silverthorne council OKs first step of school district land trade |

Silverthorne council OKs first step of school district land trade

SILVERTHORNE – Despite some protests from parents and some admitted reluctance from town leaders, the Silverthorne Town Council approved the first step needed to give the school district land for a new elementary school Wednesday.

The town is essentially switching parcels of land to give the district the best site available for the school in Cottonwood Park. The Cottonwood Park site, at Highway 9 and Hamilton Creek Road, is 23 acres. Six acres of that land have been set aside for a school, but it’s at the north end of the park, next to a sewer plant. Through the land trade, the school district gets six acres on the south end – a better spot for the planned $12 million elementary school, district officials say.

The land trade will be finalized by the town after a public hearing March 12, but the council approved the first of two readings required to seal the deal.

Robert Small, whose elementary school-aged daughter came to the council meeting with him, said he thinks building a school at Cottonwood Park is a major mistake. He said he worries about traffic passing the school on the state highway. The school should stay at its current site, he said, where district officials once talked about building a new school. Moving it north, away from the center of town, is “a crying shame,” Small said.

Hamilton Creek resident Eli Robertson said, as he has in the past, that the process is moving too quickly.

“The school board’s desire to move fast shouldn’t force you to make a fast decision,” he told the council.

Council members didn’t disagree entirely with Small or Robertson but said they’re faced with no alternatives.

Until earlier this year, the school was planned at Silver Mountain Village; progress on that development came to a halt in December and nixed plans for the building there.

“The school district has no intention of waiting for the best site,” Councilmember Karla Trippe said. “They’re going to build this school so they can ask for more money. They’re going forward no matter what.”

The district gained approval for a mill levy increase in November 2001, a portion of which goes toward building the new Silverthorne school. School superintendent Wes Smith recently said he wants to deliver the promised school to the community before the district comes back to the voters for a reauthorization of the mill levy in November 2004.

Councilmember Peggy Long offered the only dissenting vote. She’s worried about the safety of the children who will have to deal with Highway 9 to reach the school.

“It’s no place for an elementary school,” she said.

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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