SAGUACHE — Mountain Valley Superintendent Travis Garoutte attended a series of meetings Tuesday to address lingering problems with the school’s architectural plan so the district can move forward to begin construction this spring.
Several of those living near the school are still objecting to the current plans and asking for modifications to the existing design. One group has even suggested a lawsuit may be in the works, claiming the public voted on the school bond initiative believing the initial design was one story, not two.
Garoutte first met with Bobbi and Lou Baughman who own property near the school. Former mayor Greg Terrell said the Baughmans have been one of the school’s biggest supporters over the past 60 years. Lou Baughman is a retired Colorado State trooper.
The Baughmans spent an hour with Garoutte and Treanor architectural representative Todd McCallen discussing the resolution of an easement to their property. Both men expressed the desire to work with the couple.
McCallen said Treanor would pay to have a new road built to replace the use of their easement, but Lou Baughman said he was not for that because the district is not willing to plow it during the winter, and it is not eligible for the county to plow.
Lou Baughman told McCallen it is not only the road that is the issue but the playground, the fence around the playground, trees that will be planted according to the plan, the parking lot and the bright lights that will shine into his home from the parking lot.
“I don’t want kids outside my window,” he said. “And I don’t want to look at that parking lot with its bright lights. How are you going to keep kids from getting into the parking lot and spinning [doughnuts]? They’re going to do it.”
Garoutte commented he cannot control what kids do off campus or after school and suggested if this happens the Baughmans should call the sheriff’s office.
When they heard mention of the outdoor basketball court that would also abut their property both Lou and Bobbi cried, “No, no, no — I think you think you have more property there than you do.” Bobbi told McCallen and Garoutte they need to put the school back on Fourth St. “where it belongs.”
The Baughmans said they did not understand why there had to be a big football field for 11-man football when the school only has an eight-man team, and such a big running track when the space for the school is so limited. Others who met earlier with McCallen also had complained of the same issue.
McCallen said it was not he or Garoutte who suggested the field and the track, but those who served on the Design Advisory Group. He added that the track and football field was not a “sacred cow.”
The Baughmans disagreed with Garoutte and McCallen that the school’s enrollment could easily double in the coming years. Their focus was the strain and anxiety that the extra noise of a larger, busier campus would bring to their home. Lou Baughman said that if he died from the stress the proposed design has caused, they would face the biggest lawsuit they have ever seen.
Toward the end of the meeting, Terrell suggested an alternate placement of the Baughmans’ driveway the couple seemed willing to consider. The details of the new suggestion will need to be checked out, all agreed.
During the community meeting that followed, McCallen told those gathered at the school that the design as it is now was basically the same design the school published prior to the passage of the school bond. Chad Novak, the principal in charge of the school’s design, said the original master plan for the school was never intended to be the final plan.
Novak and other architectural consultants explained the many challenges they faced in designing the school. The first design submitted by the DAG was over budget and for other practical reasons had to be reconfigured. The most recent design has the school sitting 20 feet south of its original location to eliminate shading of houses in the area.
The architects said they are now working through the remodeling of the elementary school and bus barn. A few residents complained they are not pleased with the school’s facade but others said they feel it is very attractive.
The school will continue to work through design issues over the coming months.