Colorado Northwestern  Community College concept plan

Photo by Nicole Miller

Colorado Northwestern Community College concept plan

CNCC reveals Craig campus master plan


John Boyd, Colorado Northwestern Community College president, has one piece of advice for contractors who believed that constructing a college dormitory by next fall wasn't feasible.

"If you can't do it, don't put in," Boyd told contractors at a meeting earlier this month, he said. The gathering was intended to generate interest in building the new college dormitory.

Although Boyd admits that planning to have a dormitory fully operational by August calls for a "real tight timeframe," it's a chance he's willing to take.

Making calculated risks in the hopes of generating new growth was the motivation behind the campus' long-term building plan, Boyd said at the college's Board of Control meeting on March 17.

Boyd rolled out a preliminary drawing of the campus's master plan.

"It's exciting," he said. "It keeps me up sometimes at night, but it's exciting."

The college plans to build a career technical center next year after it completes the dormitory.

An academic building could follow in 2012, Boyd said.

But, these buildings constituted only the first stage in a long-range campus expansion plan.

The plans that Boyd laid before the board showed the scope of the project.

In the future, the Craig campus could boast a gym, library, auditorium, and an arts building. The proposed career technical center could feature store-like facades where its cosmetology and massage therapy programs would be housed. The career technical center also could grow two new additions.

Through a partnership with the city, a new recreation center also could find a home on the campus, Boyd said. In November, voters may have a chance to approve the recreation center, which would require a tax increase.

Boyd's estimated timeframe for the entire project: 30 to 50 years.

Yet, whether or not these installations could move from the planning board to blueprints depends on growth both within the college system and in Craig, Boyd said.

Karol Bullen, college board treasurer, believes that building the proposed dormitory will help meet that requirement.

"I think once we get housing, we can show more growth," she said.

And it already has.

Last year, the college's full time equivalency, or the number of full-time course loads taken by its students, increased by 14.2 percent from 2006. The increase was the highest in the Colorado Community College System, which serves more than 116,000 students across the state.

But, growth isn't the only factor that will determine the new campus' fate.

Progress won't come without a price tag. In this case, the first stage of the project alone, which includes the academic building, career technical center and academic building is estimated at $35 million, Boyd said.

He estimated the campus' long-range plans could cost $150 million. That number dwarfs the construction cost of the Rangely campus, which began in the early 1960s at a total price of $12 million, Boyd said.

The college will depend on state funding, significant contributions from local companies and staff donations to complete the project, Boyd said.

The college plans to approach the Department of Local Affairs this fall for funds to help build the career technical center. The college is still working with the county to determine how much to request, Boyd said.

Currently, college officials are waiting for the state legislature to approve a budget for capitol construction across the state. The $1.9 million architecture and engineering package for the academic building is included in the budget list.

The project remains on the list, despite project cutbacks caused by reduced state budget forecasts, said Todd Saliman, Office of State Planning and Budgeting director.

According to a memorandum from the Planning and Budgeting office, the state's projected budget fell $127.3 million during the 2007-08 fiscal year. The loss was largely because of individual taxes, as well as impacts from the federal economic stimulus package, the document reported.

The state legislature must approve the capital projects list next week before it can go before the governor.

Gene Bilodeau, CNCC Craig campus dean, said he believed the college's project was in "a pretty secure place" on the list.

Yet, if the state doesn't grant the funding, "we'd regroup and find another way to make it work," Bilodeau said. "We'd explore all possible avenues."

Boyd believes the price will prove profitable for the college and the community.

"We feel that this area's going to be a great growth area for the college," he said.

"A lot of people we bring here, stay," he said, adding that some nurses who obtain their training at the Craig campus find employment with area hospitals.

An increase in trained professionals could trickle down to benefit the local economy.

"The workforce is part of the reason why we're building the dorm," Boyd said, "so we can bring people into the community to fill critical needs in the workforce."


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