Avon stalls on Stone Creek lease | VailDaily.com

Avon stalls on Stone Creek lease

Sarah Mausolf
Avon, CO Colorado

AVON – Stone Creek Charter School wants to stay put for another five years but a plan to extend its lease didn’t sit well with Avon council members Tuesday.

The charter school leases its land from the town. The property in question includes 4 acres on Yoder Avenue near Home Depot.

With the lease set to expire June 30, the school’s future is once again uncertain.

Stone Creek Charter School officials have proposed extending the lease for another five years, starting with the 2011-12 school year.

That will give school officials time to raise money to buy land for another location, School Board President Mike Rindone said.

“We’re looking to raise about $1 million over five years and I think it’s feasible,” he said.

If the town doesn’t extend the lease, he said the school will probably close and go bankrupt.

While school officials say there is much at stake, Avon representatives say they’re in a tough spot as well.

Avon has long been planning to use the charter school land as a construction staging area for a new transportation facility. The town recently received a $7.5 million federal grant for the project, which will stand where the current transportation facility is located on Swift Gulch Road.

Construction on the new facility is set to start in April or May. The town needs a staging area to temporarily house vehicles, store equipment and provide employee parking while the construction is taking place.

Stone Creek Charter School officials on Tuesday presented their idea for an alternate location for the staging area.

They propose the town and school enter into an agreement with the Tanavon Corporation and Eagle River Fire Protection District to lease four acres northeast of Nottingham Road for the staging area.

The land stands between Swift Gulch and Buck Creek roads, near the former Pizza Hut. It includes two acres where the Eagle River Fire Protection District plans to eventually build a new fire station. The remaining land belongs to Oscar Tang’s Tanavon Corporation, which has proposed building townhomes on the land in the future.

As part of the deal, Stone Creek Charter School must pay $190,000 to get the land ready for a staging area. That cost includes extra improvements, such as water taps and parking areas that are already in place at the Stone Creek Charter School property.

Although several council members said they want to help the school, some indicated their patience is wearing thin with school officials, who originally asked for a one-year lease in 2006 to get the school started and have asked for, and received, two lease extensions since then.

“I think we, as a town, have supported Stone Creek quite a bit and now it’s come to a head,” councilman Dave Dantas said. “…The costs are going to be so high if we do enter into this agreement, if Stone Creek can’t bear them on their the own, we would have to and that’s not acceptable to us.”

Councilman Buz Reynolds said he doesn’t want to do anything that would put the town’s transportation facility project in jeopardy.

“We’ve already extended our hand as much as we can,” he said.

Council members invited Stone Creek officials to come back with alternative plan at the next council meeting.

Town manager Larry Brooks said he’s concerned about timing. While Tang indicated the staging area land is available for two years, the town may need a place to house buses after that, Brooks said. The town doesn’t know when it might receive a grant for the second phase of the transportation facility project, which includes a bus barn and will temporarily displace buses, he said.

Rindone stressed the school’s role in the community and growing enrollment.

“Yeah, I’m asking for a lot but I’ve got 210 kids that count on me so I need to ask for a lot,” he said. “I’ve got a school that’s going places and is good for the town.”

With a five-year lease, he said the school could continue to attract students and build its cash flow without the insecurity that comes with a year-to-year lease.

“Everybody loves our school,” he said. “They want to come but they ask us, ‘What’s going to happen after a year?'”

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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