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City helps ASD

Posted: Friday, Apr 19th, 2013

Courier editor

ALAMOSA — With help from the city, Alamosa school district’s money will go farther in constructing the new athletic/vocational agricultural complex at the Alamosa High School.

The Alamosa city council on Wednesday night approved cash and in-kind assistance for the school project. The city’s contribution will total about $38,000, with about $16,000 of that out of pocket and the rest in water and sewer tap fees waived.

Specific assistance will include storm drainage pipe and signs such as parking, street and school zone signs.

The money will come from the city’s enterprise and general funds.

The motion to assist the school was unanimous among the four councilors eligible to vote on the matter, Councilors Greg Gillaspie, Charles Griego, Josef Lucero and Mayor Kathy Rogers. Because of their employment with the school district, Councilors Rusty Johnson and Leland Romero abstained from voting at the advice of City Attorney Erich Schwiesow.

Councilor Marcia Tuggle was absent and excused from the April 17 meeting. She sent comments to the rest of the council that she was in favor of in-kind assistance but not out-of-pocket cash donations.

Alamosa School Superintendent Rob Alejo told the city council the city’s assistance would enable the school district to install a longer wearing track surface for the athletic complex. He attended Wednesday’s council meeting with some of the school board members, school staff and owner representative for the project, Larry Schreiner.

Alamosa Public Works Director Don Koskelin recommended forgiving the water and sewer tap fees for the project. He said the fees were based on year-round usage of these facilities, but these buildings would not be used all of the time. The water tap fee for the restrooms and concessions for the athletic complex, for example, totaled $2,000 plus $500 sewer tap fee, but those restrooms will be used primarily during events.

Koskelin said one of the biggest out-of-pocket expenses for the city with the school project would be the storm drain pipes on Carroll Street because the size of these pipes is different than the ones the city normally has on hand, so the city will have to purchase the pipes. He estimated the cost of the storm drain pipes at about $8,600.

Street signs will not be a big expense for the city, Koskelin said, and the city has most of the signs on hand that will be required for the new complex. The signs will include a couple of stop signs, handicapped parking signs and school zone signs. The three school zone signs are the most expensive at $3,000 each. Two will be placed on Maroon Drive and one on the east end of Carroll Street. Koskelin said they are solar powered so the main cost is upfront. They will pay for themselves in one and a half to two years, however, so they are a good investment, he explained.

Koskelin saved the school and city the expense of on-demand signals on Carroll Street, which would have cost about $12,000. The signals would primarily have provided breaks in traffic to allow buses to get into the traffic stream. Kosklein said he did not think on-demand signals were needed. He spent some time on site determining how beneficial such signals would be and said he did not think they would get the buses onto the street any faster than normal traffic would allow for them to enter.

“There will be more than enough gaps in traffic to get the buses onto the street without the signal,” he said.

He said while he was observing traffic after school at the high school he logged only seven minutes between the time the first car left the parking lot until the lot was pretty much emptied out.

“For that brief period of time, is that investment worth it?” he asked.

The school district had included the on-demand signals in its list of requests for the city to provide.

Koskelin said the city and school district could revisit the issue after the complex is constructed. Pedestrian crossing signs might be another option, and those would be less expensive, he added.

In addition to approving assistance to the school district for the athletic/vo ag complex, the council on Wednesday approved the school district’s request to expand its permitted use by special review to build the complex in the residential-medium zoned area at 805 Craft Drive. The project includes a multi-use athletic field/complex north of the high school as well as an approximately 6,000-square-foot vocational agricultural building on the southern part of the property. Councilman Johnson abstained because he serves on the school construction committee.

Site work has already begun but construction was contingent on the city’s approval Wednesday night. The project is proposed to be completed by the end of the summer.

The city planning commission had recommended approval of the expanded permitted use application with the requirement the school provide a landscaping plan, something school and city officials agreed to. Koskelin said since the vo-ag building will be metal, the planning commission wanted to see landscaping that would soften the effects of that type of building in the neighborhood.

Koskelin reminded the council that Carroll Street will be completed between Craft and Maroon Drive as part of this project, so that will help with traffic. The school district has also planned for additional parking, another consideration involved in approving the expanded permitted use by special review. Some of the new parking will be identified as overflow parking, he explained.

Koskelin said he really did not expect traffic and parking to change that much with the new facilities.

The council asked for more detail about the proposed metal building. Schreiner said the vo-ag building will be metal but with screws that are indented so they are not as noticeable, a gabled roof and trees and shrubs around the building. The metal will also be colored, and the color has not yet been finalized, according to Schreiner, but may be maroon to fit in with the school’s colors.

Councilman Lucero said the council was concerned about the metal building but had nothing in place prohibiting it. Landscaping would help mitigate the looks, he said.

Councilor Johnson agreed. He said a metal building would not be pleasing but would be more acceptable with landscaping.

Councilor Griego said agricultural buildings are metal, so the vo-ag building is in line with that. He said people would get accustomed to the look of it eventually.

Mayor Rogers said, “You guys have worked hard on this. We don’t get to choose the color, and we don’t have anything in place that says you can’t have a metal building.”

She said the council probably needs an ordinance regarding metal buildings throughout the city.

“We didn’t ask the school board when we were putting up this building whether they liked it or not,” Lucero said as he referred to the new city hall.

He said the education that will take place inside the building is more important than whether it is metal or not.

“I am in favor or this.”

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