9-R decision ignores public

The biggest mistake in Durango’s recent history took place Tues., Aug. 10. The 9-R School Board voted to sell the Administration Building to the Fire District.  

The decision is short-sighted and must be challenged. It is entirely at odds with the March 2021 Durango Renewal Partnership’s vision for our Midtown of “a flourishing community comprised of diverse, attractive & thriving hubs of activity shaped by public-private partnerships.”  

A fire station there would impede achieving the plan’s priorities: housing; mixed-use, walkable development; job creation & support of local industry; local partnerships; arts & culture; and transportation enhancements. 

Visit the Smiley Building to see what Charles Shaw has done and proposed to do creating an expanded Smiley campus and future tram connection to FLC.  

The proposal is a perfect example of the DRP’s mission: “To facilitate reinvestment in underutilized areas to address community priorities & create thriving places.” The Fire Department in a residential neighborhood is not.

Yes, it is a vital public service and needs a new home, but why not a new facility at its current location? What other public purpose is intended for this site? 

And where has the city been in this deliberation that uses $5M in appropriated public funding? The 9-R building could house and provide office space for public employees and local businesses, and address community priorities and create thriving places the DRP envisions.

This decision ignores the will of the people, many of whom have spoken out against this purchase and whose dollars were awarded the Fire District by City Council. Our input is being ignored. The School Board opened a public input process for Miller Middle School. Why not the 9-R Building? The stakes are as high, if not higher, for our community’s future.

– Ellen Stein, Durango