Large grading equipment on vacant land.
Idaho Springs and the Clear Creek School District are working on a compromise to end a lawsuit and a cease-and-desist order Idaho Springs filed against the district over building a new bus barn on the track south of the former middle school on Highway 103. Credit: File photo by Deb Hurley Brobst / Colorado Community Media

Clear Creek School District and Idaho Springs officials have avoided a court trial as they work out a compromise to solve issues between the two entities over permitting for the school district’s new bus barn.

An agreement could come as early as next week, and Idaho Springs Municipal Court Judge Michael Goodbee said the two entities would avoid six months to a year of litigation. 

The two entities were supposed to start a trial at 9 a.m. Sept. 22. Instead, if the two sides can’t come to an agreement by Oct. 6, Goodbee will conduct a court hearing that day to set a new trial date. 

The two sides are at odds over two issues: whether the city has jurisdiction over zoning and permits for the bus barn, called the Transportation and Maintenance Facility or the TMF, and whether the school district was working on a water line without having the proper permit.

“Ultimately we all want the same thing,” Jonathan Cain, the Idaho Springs assistant city administrator, said. “We want our kids to have the right kind of facilities to make them successful and teachers successful, and if we are able to work with the school district to make that happen, I think everybody is going to come out ahead, especially the kids.”

Michael Gass, Clear Creek School District’s interim superintendent, added: “We are excited that we have been able to meet with city staff and review their questions to ensure they are confident of the district’s ability to meet their expectations. While there is a transition in leadership in the school district, the City of Idaho Springs staff and leadership have been outstanding in helping me, as an interim superintendent, understand the necessary components needed to move our projects forward. It is the district’s position that we are happy to be at the table for meaningful discussions and value the ability to resolve issues as they arise.”

In early August, Idaho Springs took the school district to court because the city contends the school district hasn’t gotten the proper zoning approvals and permits before site work began at the track south of the former middle school on Highway 103  for the TMF. The city says its regulations concerning traffic control, lighting, landscaping, parking, noise, drainage, stormwater and erosion control apply to the project because they impact surrounding neighborhoods.

The school district believes that because it’s a public entity, it falls under the jurisdiction of the state rather than the City of Idaho Springs. The Colorado Department of Public Safety’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control issues building permits for school districts, it says.

Then on Sept. 13, Idaho Springs officials sent a cease-and-desist order to the school district, demanding that it immediately stop installing a main water pipe at the site. However, the school district said it was a misunderstanding, its crews were not working on a water line and the school district was waiting for city approval to install the pipe. 

The school district says its crew found a clogged culvert and a Colorado Department of Transportation crew was unclogging it on Sept. 8. That’s what Idaho Springs officials saw, not the school district’s crews digging a trench for a water line, the school district said.

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