Crawford Avenue resident Sarah Katherman stands at the base of her driveway, which would intersect with an access road if it is approved by the Colorado Mountain College board of directors. Katherman worries the intersection would be unsafe.

Photo by John F. Russell

Crawford Avenue resident Sarah Katherman stands at the base of her driveway, which would intersect with an access road if it is approved by the Colorado Mountain College board of directors. Katherman worries the intersection would be unsafe.

Council gives CMC go-ahead for access road

College to move forward with plans for new building, as well

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— Alpine Campus CEO Peter Perhac said Tuesday that in all likelihood, crews will demolish Colorado Mountain College’s Monson Hall soon after graduation May 2, then break ground for a new classroom and administration building that could open by June 2012.

Bogue Hall and Willett Hall could be demolished after completion of the new building, Perhac said. Construction of a secondary access road known as the Crawford Spur is likely to begin in spring and would coincide with construction of the new building. Perhac said CMC is committed to using local subcontractors for the project.

That’s all potential fallout from Steamboat Springs City Council’s 5-2 vote Tuesday night to dissolve the city’s intergovernmental agreement with CMC and approve a new development agreement that, when finalized and signed, will clear the way for construction of the access road and new building.

Council members Meg Bentley and Walter Magill cast the dissenting votes. Both cited safety concerns and impacts to residents from the Crawford Spur, which would widen and grade a steep, narrow city right-of-way off 12th Street to provide secondary access to the new building.

Crawford Avenue resident Sarah Katherman lives where the spur would meet 12th Street.

“My driveway would go right into that intersection,” she said. “I think it could be very dangerous.”

Another Crawford Avenue resident, Robert Ralston, asked City Council to rethink the access.

“You all had it right when you had the 13th Street entrance to the college … (that was) good long-term planning,” Ralston said. “I think we’re rushing into a lot of stuff here that you may regret.”

City Council raised significant concerns in September with CMC’s proposal to build the secondary access road off Lincoln Avenue at 13th Street.

“When we did propose 13th Street, we were blasted from this same podium,” CMC President Stan Jensen said Tuesday night. “There seems to be no right thing to do, short of launching our students onto the campus.”

Jensen said CMC has done all it can to work with the city and residents during a two-year planning process that he said has cost the college system more than $1 million.

“I think we deserve better than what has been presented tonight, frankly,” he said.

City Council will continue to address details including the Crawford Spur, signage on the roadway, landscaping and more. City attorney Tony Lettunich said the new development agreement will allow the city to retain control of the access road, by ordinance.

“I think what the development agreement does is set the stage for the college to build the road with specifications by the city,” Lettunich said.

Perhac said the CMC board of directors still has to give final approval to construction plans and costs. A bid for the project and lead contractor — potentially from the Denver area, he said — should be finalized by Feb. 1.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski said CMC has long since fulfilled the intentions of the soon-to-be-dissolved intergovernmental agreement.

“I don’t think it’s a good public policy for us to continue beating them over the head with that for the next 20 years,” Hermacinski said. “If we can’t partner with a college, we may as well just put up gates at the end of town and call it ‘game over.’”

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

John Fielding 3 years, 3 months ago

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Can we be provided with a more detailed description of the new agreement and what will be the procedure for finalization? Specifically, what are we requiring of CMC, what are we asking for, what are we offering, and does CMC have the right to decline the agreement if it determines it is not in the College's best interest to subscribe?

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John Fielding 3 years, 3 months ago

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And if CMC does decline , will they be prohibited from building?

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

People along the secondary access need to get real. Look at a map and see exactly how small of an area would prefer to take that road instead of the main entrance. And then look at the value of those houses and consider how many of those people would be taking classes at CMC.

This is far more of an emergency access to CMC and not a busy entrance.

And how many of the nearby residents considered the unused right of way their own park and path to CMC, but are now upset that it is being proposed to be used as it was originally intended to be used?

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kyle pietras 3 years, 3 months ago

CMC expanding is really good for our town! We should help get it done, and done well! (key word there is HELP them)

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John Fielding 3 years, 3 months ago

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I read earlier that we would require them to build and maintain sidewalks clear down 12th to Lincoln (as well as the Crawford spur and who knows where else). Some of those areas had been studied by the City for sidewalks but have had the plans shelved due to significant challenges to routing and substantial neighborhood opposition. We should not ask CMC to solve that problem and to fund the construction. And asking them to maintain many hundreds of feet of sidewalk beyond their property limits seems to be adding insult to injury. The City clears snow from sidewalks in several places in town even though it is legally the responsibility of the adjacent property owners.

It would be appropriate for the City to step up and offer to build all the necessary sidewalks on City rights of way, that would be the kind of show of support that would demonstrate our commitment to being good neighbors. The cost would be tiny compared to CMC's investments or as a fraction of the capital improvements budget, but the good will would have tremendous value.

As far as maintaining them, how can we justify favoring certain property owners by providing that service if they are on South Lincoln instead of Oak Street, or adjacent to a school instead of an industrial park? Does the Steamboat School district pay for clearing the sidewalk on 8th from Soda Creek Elementary to the old High School? Should they? I am glad it is being done and willing to support it with my taxes but I think of all the folks being told to do it themselves or face potential fines and ask can we not treat them fairly?

Our sidewalks are becoming more important as additional traffic endangers those who walk in the streets and more people are inclined to walk whenever they can. Our policies of passing the responsibility off to property owners is failing and must be revised. And the practice of waiting to connect bits of walkway in places like Oak and Yampa streets until someone makes improvements and can be coerced into funding it is manifestly unfair when other places will have them installed at the City expense.

A practice of building and maintaining sidewalks throughout the town will be as great an incentive to attracting businesses, tourists, institutions, and committed residents as acquiring additional parkland and river water rights, buying or building affordable housing projects, or sponsoring events.

A simple way to have dealt with CMC's pedestrian access would be to have encouraged the 13th St proposal, where all the construction would have been on land they owned and thus conform to existing official policy. But that is water over the bridge now. Let's step up and offer to share in the infrastructure improvements and maintenance to prove what we say about valuing their presence in our town.

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