The county commissioners have added a Needs Assessment discussion to their weekly Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting agenda. Alternatives for replacement of public safety, EMS, Health and Human Services facilities weighs heavily on the commissioners’ decision scale of late.

On Tuesday, the superintendent of East Grand School District (EGSD) and several board members attended the meeting to discuss the status of the district’s adoption of a new master plan with the commissioners.

Superintendent Frank Reeves opened by telling the commissioners the district had just submitted a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant application in late February. Monies from the grant would be utilized for school security and safety. The funds would be used for construction of new office space to control entry and for the purchase and installation of cameras, communication systems, emergency buzzers and interlocking doors. Reeves explained that the school’s portion of the match would be $5.8 million and the grant from the state would give $2.3 million for the project.

As for the school district’s master plan, Reeves told the commissioners that the board is considering three options that will better position the district to prepare for future growth. Preliminary pricing had been obtained for the three options and the board hopes to have a decision made by May.

Currently, Granby Elementary School is categorized as “3 track”, meaning there are 3 teachers for each grade level. The district’s goal is to build toward a 4 track system to handle the influx of students created by new development. This means additional classrooms are necessary to support the growth.

Option 1 would include remodeling and adding classrooms at Fraser Valley Elementary School and Granby Elementary Schools, remodeling the middle school and high school and adding a Career and Technical Education (CTE) building to the high school campus. The estimated cost of this option would be about $38 million.

Option 2 includes the construction of a preschool – first grade building at a location to be determined, remodeling Granby Elementary and all other projects listed in Option 1. The estimated cost for this option is about $48 million.

Option 3 would remove the existing Granby Elementary School from the equation and build a new Elementary School on district property in Granby as well as all other projects listed in Option 1. The estimated cost of this option would be about $58 million.

Reeves stated that they are looking at hiring a campaign consultant to help with polling the community and constructing a proposed ballot measure for funding.

Given that the county is likely to seek funding through a similar ballot measure for the “Public Safety Plus” project, Reeves proposed partnering with the county on contracting consultant(s). “We have an opportunity to work with the county and save the taxpayers money in the long run by consolidating services”, said Reeves.

Chairman Cimino said he welcomed the idea of sharing consultant(s). “We’d be very interested in discussing.”

Reeves asked the commissioners when they were planning to put a ballot measure for funding to a vote. Chairman Cimino noted that the window for 2019 was closing rapidly and did not give them enough time. “2020 gives us more time to spread the word.”

Chairman Cimino asked Reeves and board members, Mike McGinley, Ed Raegner and Taunia Shipman, whether they were going to look at a 2019 or 2020 ballot measure. Board Secretary Raegner told the commissioners, “This is a big thing. When the master plan comes out, we’ll need time to gain public support. We are looking at 2020”.

Commissioner Manguso said she had concern with 2020 for both funding measures. “Asking voters to fund $80-90 million, or even $60 million, I’d be curious to know what the pollsters think about this all hitting taxpayers at once.”

Superintendent Reeves told the commissioners, “We talked about it. The thing I learned is that a big number of people won’t look at it. They want to know ‘how much more is it going to cost me?’”. Reeves added, “If it is not passed, the problem is not going away. We have no other option, we have to keep going”.

The commissioners thanked Reeves and the board members for coming and giving an update. The district’s master plan is expected to be completed in May and adopted by July. “I look forward to hearing more in May”, said Chairman Cimino.

Interim County Manager, Ed Moyer, suggested the commissioners take a “deeper dive” into the possibilities for all the facilities. Trimming back the number of inmate beds in the jail, eliminating redundancy in space needs and looking at county-owned property could all help with reducing costs. Moyer told the commissioners that he had asked Bob Johnson, with RJA architects, to take a preliminary look at the two existing buildings that could be an option for housing EMS and Health and Human Services.

The Whitmer Building, located in Hot Sulphur Springs, is a 9,200 square foot facility that falls short of meeting the projected space needs for Health and Human Services. RJA projected they would need 12,500 square feet, and that was without the addition of co-locating the interested nonprofits who need about 11,000 additional square feet.

If the EGSD board selects to move forward with Option 3, Granby Elementary School has about 57,000 square feet. This could adequately house EMS, Health and Human Services and the nonprofits. Moyer explained, “New construction costs would be about $19.3 million. Costs for remodeling could save as much as $11.3 million, if we bought the building for a $1.”

New construction costs are estimated at between $425-500 a square foot and the cost to remodel is about $125 per square foot.   

The commissioners have made it clear that they want the Public Safety facility to remain in Hot Sulphur Springs, but they remain open to looking at options in Granby, which provides a more central location for services.

The commissioners will continue to analyze options weekly until they find the solution that works best for the county. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor developments.

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