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Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

RED FEATHER LAKES PLANNING ADVISORY COMMITTEE

FIRE HOUSE MEETING ROOM

44 Fire House Lane, Red Feather Lake

October 15, 2009

 

MEETING NOTES

 

 

The meeting was called to order at 1:32 p.m. by Chairperson Ted Carter.

 

Members in Attendance :  Gene Allen, Susan Bradley, Ted Carter, Dennis Frydendall, Bill Gilbert, Ross Reid, Lucille Schmitt, Michael Sledge, Roger Svendsen, Bud Thomas

 

Members Excused Absences :  All other members had excused absences

 

Adoption of Agenda :  All RFLPAC members approved the adoption of the agenda.

 

Approval of Minutes :  The September 10, 2009, minutes were approved as corrected by all RFLPAC members.

 

Communications from Committee Members :  None

 

Larimer County Representation :  Jill Bennett, LARCO Planning;

 

Guests Present :  Tom Viola, Judy Viola, Sherry Mooers, Stephen Johnson, Charlene Tipton, June K. Dreith, Floyd Edmonds, Teresa Jiles, Martin Jiles, Diana Lustick, Joey Moncayo, Paul Hewlett, Sue Wright, Pat Carlson, Terri Donnelly, Mary Douglas, Shilo Sagert, Sue Stevens, Nancy West, Bev Bishop, Donna Sayler, Lon C. Hughes, Rob Helmick, Jo Johnson, Mary Keller, Jenny Powelson, Pat Bradley

 

Communications from County Representatives :  deferred to end of meeting

 

Comments from the Audience :  Tom Viola made a presentation regarding the possible closure of the Red Feather Lakes Elementary School at the end of this school year.  Mr. Viola researched studies of school closures in other rural communities and offered the following possible impact on Red Feather Lakes:

 

  • decrease of property values and thus less taxes collected by all government entities to serve the mountain needs
  • loss of families who move because there is no local school, as well as fewer new young families moving into the community
  • loss of a vital intergenerational community; parents of children are critical as owners, workers, and customers in local businesses, as well as providing the backbone of the volunteer fire department; these services make it possible for others to retire in the community and recreational users to visit
  • the PSD mill levy funded tax dollars paid by Glacier View, RFL, and Crystal Lakes more than covers the cost of the students at the RFL school
  • if the school closes, RFL elementary students will be bussed for 1-2 hours per day (depending on where they live), which will take away from their family, study, and play time during critical developmental years.  The risk of injury from traffic accidents also increases with the length of time spent being bussed.

 

Concerned community members asked the PAC for a resolution in support of keeping the school open, as well as individual members communicating their concern to the School Board and County Commissioners and signing a petition asking to keep the school open.  The final decision will be made early in December, so action needs to be taken as soon as possible.

 

DISCUSSION ITEMS :

 

  • Ted C. asked Jill Bennett to clarify the limits and abilities of PAC in this situation. Jill stated that PAC’s focus is mostly on land use and community issues.  She has received information from the county attorney that it is acceptable for PAC to communicate directly with the School Board rather than go through the County. The County and the School Board are separate.  PAC represents the community and not the County.
  • Gene A. expressed his concern due to previous experience with other school systems.  He urged PAC to take a stand and point out the future financial impact on the County and School District.
  • Dennis F. cited previous experience of a school consolidation which worked well; He expressed a desire for more information on how the School Board came to this decision and questioned how to obtain this information.
  • The concern was expressed that the community seems to have no representation as the School District makes this decision.  We have information which the decision makers have not seen or are not attending to.
  • Ted C. questioned if we could request a more in depth study of the impact on the community of closing the school? Roger S. pointed out that the School Board has money problems and is unlikely to spend money on an in depth study; the best approach is to make our concerns known right away.

 

A motion was made by Susan B. and seconded by Bud T. that a letter stating PAC’s objection to the school closer be written within the next few days, approved by PAC members by email, and sent to the School Board.

 

PAC members agreed to listen to more comments from the visitors before voting on the motion:

 

  • one person’s previous experience with trying to get more information was that by the time they got it, the school was already closed; this community member stated that he would move rather than have his child bussed such a long distance.

 

  • a retired educator stated that the facility study that has been done is economically focused and is on the PSD web site; the Feasibility step in the procedure is to get feedback from the community on the impact the closure will have.
  • It was pointed out that there is no way the school closure could have any benefit to the community.

 

Bill G called the question.  A roll call vote was taken:

Gene Allen                yes

Gene Barker             absent

Susan Bradley         yes

Ted Carter                 yes

Terry Ferebee           absent

Dennis Frydendall   no

Bill Gilbert                  yes

Eunice Michalka      absent

Ross Reid                 yes

Lucille Schmitt         yes

Michael Sledge        yes

Roger Svendsen      yes

Bud Thomas             yes

 

Michael S. volunteered to work with Judy and Tom Viola to craft the letter and send it to the PAC members by email within 2 days.

 

A motion was made by Lucille S. and seconded by Roger S. that a copy of the letter be sent to any and all media or authority organizations.  The motion passed.

 

A motion was made by Gene A. and seconded by Roger S. that the meeting be extended no longer than 4:00.  The motion passed.

 

Road Subcommittee and Public Hearing on October 21

  • Affidavits regarding the long term use of roads (public use for 20 years) are needed for hearing.  Even a note or letter will help if a community member does not want to do an affidavit.
  • Jill Bennett shared the agenda, how the hearing will run, and possible actions/considerations by the commissioners.  She stressed the importance of presenting to the commissioners why declaring the designated roads Public is in the best interest of the community and the public.
  • Ted C. will submit a basic presentation at the hearing
  • PAC members with personal, long term experience of the roads are encouraged to make comments at the hearing

 

 

 

 

Wood Sort Lot

 

  • Ross R. expressed concern about slash in the sort lot.  Susan B. explained that it was not in the area used for the sorting.  It is on private land and is a temporary location for slash from pine beetle mitigation.

 

Jill Bennett announced that she will be retiring at the end of this year.  Rob Helmick will be the County Representative beginning in January 1010.

 

RFLPAC meeting adjourned at 4:05 p.m.

 

Submitted

 

Michael Sledge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter concerning potential school closure

Sent to North Forty News October 19, 2009

 

The Red Feather Lakes Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) strongly supports our local elementary school remaining open to serve the 47 children who now attend here.  We do not have a "rural school", rather we have a "community school".  Providing local elementary education, K-5 and pre-school, affects not only our children, but the economic and social well-being of our entire greater Red Feather community.

Red Feather Lakes area citizens paid over $2.5 million in property taxes to Poudre School District in 2008.  We do indeed "more than pay our way", up here.  Closing our school will not only reduce tax revenues to the county and school district as families move out.  Businesses will decline and some will close.  Property values will also decline and reduce revenues to Larimer county and remaining schools.  Our children who remain will be bussed for up to 2 hours on dark, wintry roads. Studies show that kids who spend hours on busses do not test as well, nor do they have time for positive experiences offered after school hours.  They will be on the bus--or permanently gone from our community.

Recent studies indicate a population growth trend here of 30%, not a decline.  The 13 pre-school children and many homeschoolers also support the reality of an increase in school age students for the Red Feather district.  Now is a terrible time to close our school.  The PSD credo states: "educate every child, every day".  We agree.  And we count all 47 of our students and their value to us every day.

First-look decisions made for cost-savings do not reflect the many destructive consequences to Red Feather Lakes.  PAC believes that a more comprehensive understanding will reveal that costs will, in fact, exceed the savings to Larimer County and to Poudre School District budgets-- when All of the relevant factors are considered. This frightening threat to our community compels RFL PAC to insist that Red Feather Elementary remain open.

The Larimer County Commissioners appoint 13 area citizen applicants to serve on the Red Feather PAC.  All of us who volunteer as PAC members, our local business owners, parents and their children, urge a complete consideration before deciding.  We are a strong and beautiful, year-round community who desire to keep our community whole.  PAC officially requests that you keep Red Feather Elementary School Open.

Respectfully, please come visit us.  And then, come to understand the complete picture before you break us apart.

RFL-PAC
Michael Sledge, Secretary

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.