CMC moves to drop agreement with Steamboat

Elimination of arrangement with city would remove extra review requirements

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— The Colorado Mountain College board of trustees has given President Stan Jensen the go-ahead to propose the dissolution of an intergovernmental agreement between the city of Steamboat Springs and the college.

The intergovernmental agreement requires the college to go through the city planning and review process for construction projects, such as the new administrative building the college is planning for its Alpine Campus in Steamboat. But because the state already regulates community colleges, it’s unusual for them to also go through city processes.

Jensen said he will submit a letter to the Steamboat Springs City Council requesting the item be placed on the Nov. 2 agenda.

He said the agreement “treats us like a developer,” and the dissolution of the agreement “makes it a lot simpler, clearer about how we can proceed” on major projects. He said the dissolution also could save taxpayer money because of the simplified approval process.

City Manager Jon Roberts said he has no strong arguments for keeping the IGA in place, and the reasons the agreement was important when it was enacted in 1997 mostly are moot.

“Back when the IGA was adopted, the primary issue was fire access and sprinkler issues,” Roberts said. Since that time, the International Fire Code has been updated to include the changes the city wanted to see, and the college will be held to those standards by state law.

The college is planning a new 50,000-square-foot administrative and classroom facility using geoexchange heating and cooling technology at the campus off Bob Adams Drive, and it’s looking at ways to add secondary road access to the site. The college’s preferred option is a new road leading to the 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue intersection. A second option is to expand a spur from Crawford Avenue.

If the IGA is dissolved, the college would have to get only administrative approval for projects. Roberts said the college also would have to meet lower, objective standards to have the city accept the secondary access road and provide maintenance.

City Council members have expressed some concerns about the proposed secondary access. Roberts said those concerns primarily are related to safety issues, and because of that discussion the college began looking at the Crawford Avenue spur instead of access from 13th Street.

Roberts said he spoke to directors in the Fire, Public Works and Planning and Community Development departments and does not see a reason to keep the extra review requirements.

“They’re all of a similar opinion of me that the IGA really now is not as significant a factor as it was in 1997,” he said.

Comments

exduffer 3 years, 9 months ago

And this was not brought up two months ago because?

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mtntrekker 3 years, 9 months ago

According to the second paragraph, if the IGA is dissolved, then CMC can build any type of building they want? They could build an ugly square box without any design review from the City?

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Scott Ford 3 years, 9 months ago

Call me silly - but the issues associated with withdrawing from the IGA likely has little to do with the proposed buildings and more to do with the proposed road.

CMC wanted 13th Street to be the gateway to the campus. It would be their "showcase" entrance. The risk of "goofing" with the Iron Spring, impacting traffic flow on Lincoln Ave and making the road look awesome and more importantly "pretty" as it cut its way up the hillside was going to cost $8 million. In the end CMC came to the realization it was simply going to cost too much and was not worth the "brain-damage" to make 13th street the primary entrance to the campus.

Plan B - develop a secondary road called the Crawford Spur. It is very likely that there is going to be some concerns from the homeowners near this proposed new road. Withdrawing from the IGA removes City Planning and City Council from the "loop" of needing to address the homeowners concerns. Any issues that may arise are between just two parties - the homeowners and CMC.

City involvement would only delay the process and likely make it more costly to the college without any significant benefit to either the homeowners or CMC. Recall the "stink" a few verbal and politically active homeowners made over allowing "disk-golf" at the Rita Valentine Park. The homeowners near this new road would likely be just as active if not more so.

Therefore, from my perspective withdrawing from the IGA is a good strategic move on the part of CMC.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 9 months ago

But it also suggests that our city politics are broken when it is obvious to all of what is the necessary thing to do, but everyone agrees that it is too hard to do it through the city and instead it is better for CMC to just do it.

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Scott Ford 3 years, 9 months ago

Hi Scott W. Occasionally I come to the City's defense and I think this is one of those times. CMC has 15 campus across as many communities. The only community that an IGA of this type (making them subject to the local municipality's planning department requirements) is Steamboat Springs.

When the original IGA was executed in 1997, the City's primary concern was in regards to safety issues relating to emergency access and installation of fire sprinklers. Over the past 13 years, the codes have changed, and public education institutions are required to comply with the 2006 International Fire Code, which requires sprinklers and secondary access. The City's fire marshal is satisfied with not having CMC subject to the intent of the IGA and said as much when City Council discussed this issue a few weeks ago. I think the underlying reasons for the IGA that addressed the City's concerns back in 1997 are no longer an issue.

The IGA if continued will likely "muddy the waters" as CMC begins to deal with the homeowners and the development of the Crawford Spur. The IGA is an additional layer of bureaucracy that is not needed.

To my Libertarian friends that read and participate in these blogs - even though you all know I have progressive tendencies in my views - I am also pragmatic when it comes to reducing layers of bureaucracy when it makes sense. In this case it makes sense.

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Tamera Manzanares 3 years, 9 months ago

Am I the only one that thinks there are serious safety issues with continuing to allow 12th and Bob Adams Dr. to be the primary access for this campus? Take a drive up the road in the evening. Steep, curvy, narrow, no sidewalks and no traffic light at Lincoln. Add bikes, skateboards and pedestrians and this situation is just a bad accident waiting to happen. Seems to me there are just as many issues as with the proposed new road at 13th. So I'm not really sure what is being accomplished here, other than saving CMC a lot of money and allowing the city to not have to deal with the situation.

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Debra Crawford 3 years, 9 months ago

In response to mtntrekker’s question: Even without a similar intergovernmental agreement between the college and the communities it serves in 10 other locations, CMC has worked with local elected officials and community partners to build buildings of which those communities can be proud. We have done our best to strike the balance between meeting community needs and being mindful stewards of tax dollars received from throughout our six-county district.

To read about some of the college's latest building projects, go to: http://vaildaily.co.ussrv15.newsmemory.com/index.php (Oct. 9 issue) http://www.summitdaily.com/article/20090830/NEWS/908299989&parentprofile=search

Debra Crawford, public information officer, Colorado Mountain College

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