School District Superintendent meets with Brush Creek team

Asks for teacher housing, first right of refusal

By Aimee Eaton

Gunnison Watershed School District superintendent Doug Tredway has been in talks with the Gatesco Company about how the proposed Brush Creek housing project may impact the local school, and what in turn the school may want from the housing developers in compensation for any changes should the proposal reach fruition.

At a Monday, October 2 meeting, Tredway told members of the school board that he had met with Gatesco community relations representative John O’Neal and owner Gary Gates on the previous Friday because, “I had some questions to ask.”

Tredway has long expressed concerns over a lack of available, affordable housing in Crested Butte for teachers and employees working at the Crested Butte Community School. As a result, he said his first question for the Brush Creek team had to do with the cost of a unit.

“I asked them how much a first-year teacher, someone making a starting salary of $35,000, would have to pay to rent in that spot,” he told the school board. “They said rent for a one-bedroom studio would be $992 a month.”

Tredway said he also asked O’Neal and Gates if they would set aside housing for teachers, and the group discussed a couple models where that could happen. The first, said Tredway, would be the granting of a master lease in which the school district would hold the lease on a block number of units that they would then be responsible for renting. It’s not a model that the district is necessarily interested in because of the financial obligation, however, Tredway said Gatesco will likely be offering a master lease to other entities such as Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

“We wouldn’t be interested in that, but Gatesco might be interested in setting a few units aside for the district,” said Tredway. “I would be interested in having first right of refusal on units.”

Tredway did not tell the school board whether any of the potential impacts of the Brush Creek project on the school system—things like the cost of increased student enrollment, traffic issues, a need for more teachers and a bigger building—had been discussed in the meeting. Instead he said they discussed the philosophy behind the construction.

“He’s not building something to sell, he’s building something to lease,” said Tredway of Gates’ commitment to the project. “He’s after the long-term investment. There are so many units because he has to build sewer, water, transit and the rest of the infrastructure. We did ask for mitigation if it changes student numbers at the upper end of the valley. The mitigation that is possible is for our teachers to rent at a reasonable price.

“There’s a lot of interest in having places for our employees to live in town,” Tredway continued. “Brush Creek is not in town; but it’s a one and a half mile bike ride—that’s reasonable, that’s in town.”

Tredway told the school board he had the opportunity to submit comments to the county about the project, but was looking for the board’s direction.

School board member Marilyn Krill, who represents the area north of Round Mountain, told Tredway and the board she wasn’t ready to commit to the project.

“I have some reservations about this specific project,” Krill said.

Other board members suggested they needed more information and would be looking to learn more about the proposal in the days ahead.

As of Oct. 11, Tredway said the district had not provided any comments to the county, but “we are following the process closely.”

“The fact that the property is a mile and one half from school, and will be connected by a trail is appealing,” he added.