Schools not jumping on ice rink plan | AspenTimes.com

Schools not jumping on ice rink plan

Allyn Harvey

The Aspen School District issued a denial yesterday that it had any plans to replace its bus barn on Maroon Creek Road with an ice rink.

In fact, district officials made it clear they weren’t even considering the idea, despite what was said Monday in an Aspen City Council work session. “We have no intention of moving the bus barn off the Aspen school district campus,” said district spokeswoman Vicky Johnson.

District officials were forced to comment on the future of their bus barn after longtime resident Toni Kronberg said the district was interested in moving the bus barn and using the land for a two-rink ice palace.

Kronberg came before the City Council during its Monday work session to ask for support for selling the Aspen Ice Garden in town and building a two-rink facility at the bus barn. She told the council that school district officials had greeted her idea with enthusiasm.

Johnson said that while the district supports the ongoing effort to build a new ice rink at the Iselin Park/James E. Moore pool complex, it’s not enthralled with the idea of losing its bus barn in the process.

But Kronberg insisted that district transportation director Fred Brooks said he didn’t care where the bus barn was located. “He told me, `I’ll go wherever they tell me to go,’ ” Kronberg reported to the City Council.

What she didn’t report, Brooks said, was the question that resulted in that answer.

“She asked me, `What if they move the bus barn somewhere else?’ and I said I would work wherever they tell me to. But that’s what I would have to do to keep my job,” Brooks said.

Brooks wrote a letter to the City Council yesterday in an attempt to clarify what was said in his conversation with Kronberg. “Statements made by Toni Kronberg in regards to the Aspen School District Transportation Department being moved, or willing to be moved are false and misleading,” Brooks wrote.

The letter continues, “The statement made to Ms. Kronberg was, `The district is best served by the bus barn being on campus. Moving the bus barn could in no way benefit the students of this district, in fact it would only harm them. The additional cost to the district would harm every classroom and program the district provides. Every dollar spent on transportation is money not spent in the classroom.'”

Not only would moving the bus barn off campus require the district to purchase property and build a new facility, it would also mean longer working hours for bus drivers and the creation of new positions to ferry vehicles and equipment between the school and the off-campus bus barn. Brooks said the bus barn houses all of the district’s snow removal and landscaping equipment, and serves as a repair shop and fuel depot.

Having the bus barn on campus makes it safer for students, he added, because if an emergency evacuation becomes necessary, the buses are right there.

“Right now, if a class is going on a field trip, the teacher can walk down to the bus barn and pick up a vehicle. If we move the bus barn, it makes things more difficult for everyone,” Brooks said.

In addition to Brooks’ letter, City Council members also received phone calls from Johnson reiterating that there are no plans to move the bus barn.


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