Parkside on the north side of town?

Posted 11/9/10

However, the proposed school would conflict with the city's master street plan, which calls for Clark Street to be extended through the land, curving northwest toward the Elk Basin Highway. The extended street — proposed 23 years ago in the …

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Parkside on the north side of town?


City considers proposed school's potential effect on master street planSomeday, Parkside Elementary students may attend school north of Clark Street and just east of Northwest College. Acreage currently used as farmland is being considered by Park County School District No. 1 for a new elementary school — but not for another 10-15 years down the road.

However, the proposed school would conflict with the city's master street plan, which calls for Clark Street to be extended through the land, curving northwest toward the Elk Basin Highway. The extended street — proposed 23 years ago in the city's master plan — would interfere with the school district's plans for an elementary school.

City Planning and Zoning Commission members recently discussed the street master plan and proposed school plans with Kevin Mitchell, school superintendent, and Bob Moore, a real estate agent representing the landowner.

“This is a good piece of property. We can bring our buses in from most directions without coming through town,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell explained that a few years ago, the state requested a study for potential sites for future schools. Parkside's current location isn't large enough to accommodate a new elementary school under state codes, Mitchell said. He noted the new Southside Elementary is on nine acres, which is “about as small as we could get.”

A new Parkside is still around 15 years in the future, he added. The district recently spent $1 million renovating Parkside and plans to use the facility for another 10-15 years.

“We want to plan ahead so the school won't be two or three miles out of town,” Mitchell said.

Responding to a question from Powell resident Ed Wenzel, the superintendent said the district can't build an elementary school on land where the demolished gymnasium or natatorium/auditorium once stood. He explained that the area is being looked at for middle school planning, and it isn't large enough to accommodate both the middle school and Parkside.

In its planning, the district's study identified the agricultural land north of Clark Street as an ideal location for Parkside. It would allow bus loops on school property rather than the street, Mitchell said.

“It's prudent that the district keeps moving forward, and we have the money now to purchase the property,” he said.

Until a new school is built there, the district would lease it as farmland, Mitchell said.

Planning and Zoning commissioners worry an elementary school would obstruct any plans of extending Clark as an arterial street to accommodate north/south traffic.

“We don't have a nice north/south, wide connection through town,” said John Campbell, commissioner, adding it would be ideal to have it with Clark, in the middle of Powell. “I'd hate to see us lose that possibility of a north/south connection.”

If the land became a residential subdivision and was annexed into the city, then officials would meet with the developer and look at the master street plan and decide where streets would go, said William Petersen, city building official.

However, with a school, it's different, Petersen said. The district doesn't want a busy arterial street bordering a new elementary school.

Though the land would eventually be annexed into the city, until that happens, the city can't demand where roads must be built.

“These designated streets, the dotted lines, are outside city limits,” said Scott Kath, assistant city attorney. “The city has no right to designate a street there.”

Planning and Zoning commissioner Tim Sapp said the area could be annexed by force to maintain the city's street plan.

“The city has never forced an annexation, and I can't imagine the city wanting to force an annexation on agricultural property,” Kath responded.

Some commissioners questioned maintaining a Clark Street extension when the city hasn't pursued the idea since the street plan was drafted in 1987.

“Now that this land is being sought after, can we hold it hostage to a dotted line if we aren't willing to step up and acquire it?” asked Glen Holm, commissioner.

Holm added that the road has been a dotted line on the plan for 23 years.

Commission chair John Sides said the board could recommend one of three things to the council: eliminating the dotted line for a Clark Street extension, making a new dotted line or leaving it as it is.

Commissioners decided to create a new dotted line on the street master plan, now showing Clark as a straight north/south street, connecting eventually to Lane 8. In the 23-year-old street plan, the Clark extension is shown as a curve, winding west toward the Elk Basin Highway.

Unwilling to give up the possibility of a north/south arterial Clark Street, commissioners decided to recommend a new Clark Street extension alignment to the city council.

However, the proposed Clark extension likely still interferes with the school district's plans.

Mitchell thanked commissioners for their time and consideration, and said if that was the recommendation to the City Council, the school district would ask councilmen to vacate it.