DEL NORTE — After meeting with Rio Grande County Commissioners during a special meeting on Friday, May 28, the Upper Rio Grande School District Board of Education decided not to take ownership of the Del Norte Athletic Fields.
According to reports coming from the school district, the school board went in this direction after learning the resolution and paperwork that needed to be completed by the county was not ready by May 28.
“We have been working on this for the past five years and even more so in the last few months. We thought we would have a decision by now and we don’t. We just don’t want to do it anymore,” said Upper Rio Grande School District Board of Education President Neal Walters.
School officials learned during the special meeting on Friday that the resolution and other paperwork including the memorandum of understanding and title were not completed and because of this, ownership of the land would not have been transferred in time to receive a grant from the KABOOM company for the pending playground equipment.
The school district had been working with KABOOM since January on a grant to purchase new playground equipment for the athletic fields and submitted the grant application in March. They had until June 1 to turn in the necessary paperwork and get the grant.
“This was the one thing that kind of made the decision for us. We wanted to provide a playground area for the community, but we couldn’t get the county to get the paperwork done in time. Now, we have lost the grant for this cycle, and we made an executive decision among all of our key players, including members of the school board and elementary Principal Amy Dida who had been working on the grant to just pull out of the situation altogether,” explained Superintendent Aaron Horrocks.
The school district had started working on the land again after stopping landscaping work over a year ago.
“We have decided to stop work immediately and have come to terms with the fact that we have probably played our last baseball game on the baseball diamond there for the year. We are looking into alternative places for next season, but nothing is set in stone yet,” Walters said.
Walters told Rio Grande County Commissioners of their plans on Friday but did not get a response from the county governing board.
With the grant deadline passed, the school district has shifted its attention to other projects.
“We have been telling them for months now that we needed to have this paperwork in to the KABOOM company and that our time was short. Everyone has told them that if we didn’t get a resolution to the ownership issue, we would lose the grant and we did. That was it for us and now we are moving on and looking at other options. We have other work that needs our attention now,” Horrocks said.