On July 24, with the hot sun beaming down, about 20 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of what has become informally known as the Meadowood teacher housing project.
The 50-unit staff housing initiative is between North Face Park on Meadowood Drive and Roaring Fork High School. It adds to the district’s current inventory of 66 Basalt and Carbondale units occupied by Roaring Fork Schools teachers and staff.
The project’s timeline dates back to 2015 when Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) voters approved a bond issue for initiating a staff rental housing program.
Kendall Reiley has been there since the beginning, serving as a district housing committee member since its inception in 2016. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Reiley, also Crystal River Elementary assistant principal, said, “This has been some of the most complicated and messy work that I’ve done in my career so far, being a part of this housing committee and working on the guidelines about who was going to get to live in the units [through the district’s housing lottery], but it’s also been some of the most rewarding work that I’ve done.”
Before the groundbreaking ceremony, RFSD Superintendent Dr. Jesús Rodríguez acknowledged the project’s lengthy history. “As many of you know, this has been a labor of love for a long time … so I want to say thank you to all of the taxpayers for investing in this work and believing in this vision. It’s critical that we figure out housing for all of our staff.”
In his remarks, Rodríguez also recognized former Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jeff Gatlin, who left the district in May for the same position in the Jefferson County School District, and the new COO, Ben Bohmfalk, for their efforts in advancing the project.
While the Meadowood housing will alleviate some of the current housing woes for RFSD staff, Rodríguez shared, “I believe that our approach to housing has to be multifaceted, that we have to continue to explore and expand on the rental units that we have available to our staff, but we also have to explore other opportunities like pathways to homeownership.”
Aaron Ladner, lead architect on the project working under principal architects at Boulder-based Jv DeSousa Architecture and Design, said the firm’s primary focus is affordable housing projects. They also designed the 20-unit district housing project adjacent to the Third Street Center, which opened for occupancy in August 2018.
Ladner said, “One of the main concerns the school district had with this project was making sure that while this housing stays affordable, it stays livable and is a place where people will be happy and comfortable to come home to. We’ve prioritized natural light, views of Mt. Sopris, outdoor spaces, and then lifestyle, with bulk storage and bike racks to ensure storage space for gear for all the various outdoor activities around here.”
The Meadowood project will include eight studios and 10 one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom and 16 three-bedroom units. It is an all-electric project, meaning there is no natural gas line. While that was not required by the Town code, RFSD decided to make the investment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The housing project will also have on-site parking with electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and the potential for more EV stations in the future. The targeted completion date is August 2024.
Carbondale Town Manager Lauren Gister, who attended the ceremony, said, “The more we can do to keep people in this valley and to allow them to make Carbondale their home — a real home, not just someplace they have to go to work — the better off we are.”