Site work will start soon on a new Bayfield school for third through fifth grades. It will be on 40 acres across East Oak Drive from Bayfield Middle School.
Around 40 district residents turned out Monday evening for a presentation about the new school, plus renovations and additions at the current elementary school. Both projects will be funded by an $8.56 million BEST grant from the Colorado Department of Education and a $28.7 million bond issue approved by district voters last November.
Neighbors of the new 3-5 school had concerns about traffic impacts and safety of kids and adults walking, especially where there are no sidewalks.
Daniel Gartner from the Grand Junction-based Chamberlin Architect firm led the presentation, starting with the new school site plan. All access will be from Oak Drive. Road improvements will happen in summer 2018 to widen the road slightly and add a turn lane for access to both BMS and the new school. There will be a flashing light crosswalk between the schools.
The Mountain View-East Oak-Lakeside intersection will become a roundabout "to make that intersection more functional than it is now," Gartner said.
An audience member asked about parking for school events, which has often been along Mountain View and East Oak.
"We're designing it so the schools can share facilities and parking," said Marty Zwisler, the district owner's representative. If money is available later in the overall project, there are plans for a gravel overflow parking lot north of the BMS football field, he added.
A nearby resident asked about the future road coming north from Highway 160 on the east side of the 40 acres, then west across the top of the 40 acres to link with Cedar Drive. She questioned the increased traffic that will cause.
"What about safety of kids (walking) on Cedar?" she asked. "There are no sidewalks. It's very narrow. I'm right on the corner. People don't stop." She wanted to know if there are any plans to widen Cedar.
"That's separate from what we have control over," School Superintendent Troy Zabel said.
Gartner added, "Our part was to grant an easement across our property. ... This is conceptual at this point. It strikes us as less than ideal to have a major thoroughfare right there." The easement was granted because the town required it as part of annexing the 40 acres, he said.
Audience members also worried about the safety of kids crossing at the Oak-Cedar intersection.
One participant said he'd heard traffic on Mountain View would increase by 70 percent. Zwisler said the projection is for a 70 percent increase, but from all directions. A lot of that will be coming from the north via Sossaman Drive, he said.
The site plan shows a soccer field south of the new school and space for a future baseball field in the southwest corner of the 40 acres. All the parking, about 90 spaces, is on the north side of the 3-5 school, Gartner said. The gym at the west end of the school will be over-sized with bleachers, so it can be used for middle school activities.
Just west of the gym is a space designated for a Boys & Girls Club. The Boys & Girls Club will be raising money to build that. "We haven't really gone very far down that road," Gartner said. "Utilities will be available for them." An alcove on the south side of the school is designated for a garden space.
He showed more detailed building plans, and there were displays that visitors could look at. Each grade will have seven classrooms and their own bathrooms, teachers' lounge and work room.
The school will have heating and cooling assisted by geothermal wells that tap the 55-degree ground temperature. Around 40 geothermal well bores will go down approximately 400 feet. They'll be grouped just southwest of the school, Gartner said. To avoid damage from ground settling in fill areas and soil expansion in other areas, the school will be built on a network of 100 to 200 steel pilings that will be driven down until they won't go any deeper, probably around 40 feet, he said.
A woman wanted to know how much bigger Bayfield will have to get before the district needs another new school. Zabel said the 3-5 school is built for growth.
Gartner also discussed the changes at BES that will accommodate grades K-2.
The parent drop-off area will move to the east side, with a fenced playground between that and the school, as well as a basketball court sized for the younger kids. The site plan shows a fenced soccer field east of the drop-off road.
Additions will include a new library on the east side, new administrative offices and main entry on the west side, and a small addition to the cafeteria. Existing parking on the west side will stay as is.
BES also will have seven classrooms per grade, Gartner said. The music room will be at the south end of the ground floor, and special ed rooms will be at the north end. The new stairway will run east-west, with a landing halfway up.
Some remodeling will happen this summer at the north end, which was the 1997 addition, Gartner said, along with a start on the additions and some east side work. Asked about construction when kids are in school, he said, "We'll do our best to coordinate when school is out" for activities that involve noise or dust. Summer 2018 will be very busy.
"The goal is to be completely done (with both schools) for the start of school in 2018," Gartner said. There will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the new school soon, but no date was given Monday.
Once kindergartners and first graders are out of the primary school on South Street, the goal is to have a district-run pre-school in the modular classrooms there, Zabel said. "We'd love to do it now," he said. "We don't have the space."
Zabel said planning for the new school and renovation "started well before I came to the district" six years ago. A previous school board bought 23 acres between the old mid school on South Street and the river, with the intention to build a new school there, but the lower part of that land is floodplain. Last year the town bought that land to use for park and open space, with money from a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant.
The earlier board also was interested in the current site of the new school, Zabel said. In 2012, voters approved the extension of an existing bond issue to build the performing arts addition at the high school, and to buy the 40 acres.
It was a lot to ask for voters to support the 2016 bond issue four years later, Zabel said. Traffic issues will be addressed both at the new school and BES, he said.