Eagle noon basketball games at middle school might be moved to Gypsum, despite 50-year deal
School district wants to buy out Eagle’s $431,000 investment in 1995 for $13,000, cites children’s safety
- July 25, 1995: The date Eagle, the school district and Mountain Recreation signed an intergovernmental agreement.
- $431,040: What the town of Eagle contributed toward Eagle Valley Middle School’s gym construction, including $91,120 in fee waivers.
- 50 years: The length of the agreement Eagle received for lunchtime basketball.
- $2.11: Per hour charge the school district calculates for the lunchtime pickup basketball games
- 204,200: Hours available for lunchtime pickup basketball over the 50-year agreement.
- 102,100: Hours remaining for the 25 years remaining in the agreement.
- $13,535.96: Based on those assumptions, the amount the school district says the remaining 25 years are worth.
- Source: Eagle County School District/Town of Eagle
EAGLE — For around five decades basketball players have gathered for noon-hour pickup games. Back in the day, they played in the Eagle High School gym beside the old county building. The gym roof was flat and a snowstorm collapsed it.
It looked like “game over” for the noon ballplayers.
However, in the mid-1990s the school district wanted to build a new gym at Eagle Valley Middle School and asked Eagle to kick in some cash to create a larger gym. Eagle agreed and contributed $431,000, with the condition that noon ballplayers would be able to play there for the next 50 years. Mountain Recreation, then known as WECMRD, would manage the noon ball program.
The three entities inked the deal on July 25, 1995, and all lived happily ever after … until this spring.
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Eagle County Schools now says it’s a new world and it does not want adult basketball players in the same building as middle school students during the school day.
The school district asked Mountain Recreation to relocate Eagle’s lunchtime basketball to the Gypsum Recreation Center. The players say the move will end their 50-year tradition.
What’s a 50-year deal worth?
The school district says the remaining years on Eagle’s lease are worth $13,000, and that’s what the district is offering Eagle to walk away from its $431,000 investment in 1995.
Caught in the middle is the Eagle Town Council, which is scrambling for cash in the wake of the COVID-19 economic crash. The council postponed action until later this month.
During a March 24 town council meeting, some Eagle Town Council members wondered aloud what the lease is worth, and if a $13,000 buyout was a sufficient return for their 1995 investment of $431,000.
From the opposite end, during a meeting earlier this month, several school board members said they’re ready to terminate the agreement.
Some school board members said it’s time for the players “to put the students’ needs first.”
An Eagle tradition
“Noon ball is a 50-year Eagle tradition that would die if they’re forced out,” said Scott Webster, who has played noon ball for years.
That 1995 agreement said that with Eagle’s contribution, the school district would build the gym big enough to be a community asset.
The gym was built for around $92 a square foot, under that 1995 agreement. Under that 1995 agreement, a rec district staffer was supposed to monitor noon ball. That soon went by the wayside and Webster said noon ballers were told to police themselves. So they did, Webster said.
“If anyone came in who we didn’t know, we’d handle them,” Webster said.
Sometimes that meant directing people to the restroom. Sometimes that meant banishment, like the guy who started a fight during a game who was told not to return.
Mountain Recreation board agrees
During a March meeting, the Mountain Recreation board directed the staff to move the program to the Gypsum Recreation Center, a facility it manages. In handing down its decision, the board cited “the liability associated with bringing the public into a school facility during the school day.”
“When the intergovernmental agreement was signed in 1995, Mountain Rec did not have alternative locations to host the legacy program,” Janet Bartnick, Mountain Recreation’s executive director, wrote in an email. “Today, the district operates the Gypsum Recreation Center, and relocation of the program is possible.”
Bartnick said there was an incident reported to Safe2Tell this year that was addressed, and which presents legitimate concerns going forward.
“Our board did not feel it was appropriate to host an adult program in a middle school during school hours for the safety of our children,” Bartnick said.
Gym access and security cannot be monitored and controlled at the level it needs to be, the school district said.
“Unfortunately, times have changed over the last 25 years that it no longer makes sense to continue to mix the student population with community members. Hosting the program at the school during the school day, when students are present, is putting our students and staff at risk. Safety must be a priority and limiting opportunity for access to the school is imperative,” the school district said in its proposal to move the program.
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