DEL NORTE— During a special meeting held by the City of Del Norte and the Upper Rio Grande School District Board of Education (URG BOE) on Thursday, Sept. 5, a discussion pertaining to the annexation of county property into the town ended in a final agreement.
Several entities were present for the conversation that was held in a public forum at the county annex building. Those present included the town board and staff, URGBOE, Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF), Del Norte Fire Department and Rio Grande County Commissioners. All entities were there to help the town and the school reach the final agreement.
School district attorney Kristin Edgar began the discussion by stating that the board was in a position to move forward with the annexation. The town and the school district have been discussing the annexation of the school for some time and were ready to move forward with the process in order to have it complete by the first of the year.
The new school is built on top of the town and county boundary line, making it literally half in town limits and half in the county. It was in the best interest of the school to annex into the town not only to alleviate issues with law enforcement, but for the benefit of town utilities.
One of the main issues with the final annexation agreement was that the town was requesting the school be responsible for the paving of French Street, which is located right in front of the school and is also known as County Road 13. “We are ready to commit to finding funding sources to help in the cost that is associated with the paving of French Street, but the district is not in any financial position to do so any time soon. We would hate to see this small matter hold up the annexation process,” said Edgar.
Town Attorney Gene Farish stated on behalf of the town that the paving of French Street would cost an upwards of $100,000. “The town is willing to take that stipulation out of the language for the annexation agreement as long as the school is willing to do the work to find funding sources for the project in the future,” said Farish.
District Superintendent Chris Burr addressed Deputy Forest Supervisor Tom Malecek who was in attendance and asked if the Forest Service would be able to help with any of the funding needed to pave the street. Malecek stated that the Forest Service was not in any way able to help with costs for the project at this time, but that if anything were to come available or if they could help in any way they would in the future.
At the end of the discussion, school and town board members were able to reach a final agreement and will have the annexation paperwork ready to sign by early next week. The agreement will state that the school will be responsible for finding funding sources to help with the costs of paving French Street with the stipulation that the town will serve as a financial sponsor for any grants that may be available. For now the annexation will be completed and the road will remain dirt until funding for the project is found.