School district seeks nearly $1 million from Garfield County
October 30, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The local school district is asking Garfield County to kick in nearly $1 million toward a proposed affordablehousing project in Carbondale.
A letter from Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Judy Haptonstall to the board of county commissioners outlines the request, which seeks “approximately $960,000” for the project. The district contains schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.
As it now stands, the housing proposal, which would be built on district-owned land adjacent to the former Carbondale Elementary School and surrounding the nearby former Carbondale Middle School building, is estimated to result in some 120 housing units.
The former CES building, along with adjacent open space, has been turned over to the town and redesignated the Third Street Center, a home for non-profits and other community-based organizations, while the old CMS building is now the Bridges Center, which houses an alternative high school and other school-related facilities.
Of the projected 120 housing units, according to Haptonstall’s letter, 96 would be subsidized, affordable-housing units, largely condos, townhomes and apartments. The remaining 24 would be “free-market” homes.
The numbers of units and the makeup of the project remain in flux, and the proposal currently is before the town’s planning and zoning commission.
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Haptonstall’s letter asks for county participation in paying for the 96 affordable housing units, which translates to $10,000 per unit.
In support of the funding request, Haptonstall wrote that the district has experienced “a significant increase in staff turnover,” much of which is attributed to “the lack of affordable housing.”
She cited recent research that has indicated it costs “approximately $10,000 to hire a new teacher in terms of time, actual expenditures, and training,” from which she concluded that “the district commits between $600,000 and $800,000” to hire and train the 60 to 80 teacher positions she said turn over every year.
A survey of district staff, she said, showed that “159 families indicted that they would like to purchase a home and 139 families indicated that they would like to rent an affordable apartment,” if they were available.
“The majority of these families make between $57,000 and $103,000 per year,” she continued, which is between 80 percent and 146 percent of Garfield County’s median income standard.
Haptonstall’s letter also describes the project as including a new location for the Carbondale branch of the Garfield County Library system; “recreational and cultural spaces, affordable commercial spaces for community serving nonprofits, and the Bridges Center” as well other school-related facilities.
“Together, these mixed-use components are designed to improve the quality of life in Carbondale and Garfield County,” Haptonstall wrote to the BOCC, adding that the district is donating the land for the project to keep home prices down and seeking “multiple funding sources … to assure that the project meets the needs of the district, town, county and community.”
The district’s proposal is expected to be discussed at the next meeting of county commissioners, on Nov. 2 at the county administration building, 108 8th St., Glenwood Springs.