Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat attempts to buy property
College officials identify site as possible location for access road
March 23, 2010
Steamboat Springs — When Colorado Mountain College's Alpine campus held a public meeting in September to discuss a proposed new building, the site for a secondary access road to the campus went right though Harry and Mary Dike's commercial property at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue.
That was news to the Dikes.
Harry Dike said Monday that before the meeting in the fall, his family had not been approached by anyone from the college about its plans.
"This all came from out of nowhere in a hurry," he said.
Recently, the college has been negotiating to buy the property so it can build an access road required for the construction of a $20 million, 40,000-square-foot building complete with geoexchange heating and cooling technology.
Campus CEO Peter Perhac said last week that the negotiations are ongoing and confidential. He wouldn't say whether the college and the Dikes were close to reaching an agreement.
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Dike said the property wasn't for sale when the college recently approached his family. He said there's a separation between what the college has offered and what the Dikes would like to get for the property.
"It's a cost issue," Dike said. "Their concept and what has been presented to us is not acceptable. That's the issue. That's the main issue."
He declined to say what that separation in price is.
According to the Routt County Assessor's Web site, the property — including the land and buildings — was valued for tax purposes at $1.44 million in 2009. Tax value does not reflect actual market value.
The Assessor's Web site records also indicate the Dikes bought the property for $181,300 in 1981.
The property's structure was built in 1969 and includes 4,300 square feet of commercial space on 1.49 acres, according to the site.
If an agreement isn't reached, the college could start eminent domain proceedings.
Colorado Revised Statutes give the state's community colleges the authority to take private property for public purposes if an agreement for the voluntary sale couldn't be reached with the property owner. A sales price would be determined in court.
"The board has the power to take and hold, by gift, devise, purchase, or lease or through the exercise of the power of eminent domain pursuant to law, so much land as may become necessary for the location and construction of such buildings, structures, and other facilities as may be required for the uses and purposes of the colleges in the state system," the statute states.
When asked if eminent domain was a possibility, Perhac said he didn't know.
"That's always out there," he said, but "the college would prefer to negotiate with the owners on price."
Dike said eminent domain has been mentioned during a meeting with the college, but he doesn't think starting those proceedings is something the college wants to do.
Perhac said the city of Steamboat Springs is requiring a secondary access road, in addition to Bob Adams Drive, for fire and emergency services in conjunction with the construction of the building that is slated to break ground in June 2011 with occupation anticipated for fall 2012.
City Planner Seth Lorson said the Crawford spur, the existing secondary access, is not up to city standards. He said the intergovernmental agreement with the Alpine campus requires the college to meet those standards.
Ben Beall, a public works engineer with the city, said a new access road would include two 12-foot wide lanes with 3-foot shoulders, and the maximum grade could be no greater than 7 percent. He said any plans for the road, which still are conceptual, would have be approved by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Perhac said if the college bought the site, the commercial building likely would be razed because the steepness of the site would require that the road include several banks and turns. The commercial building's current tenants include Steamboat Tattoo, Twice as Nice Shoppe thrift store, The Water Store and Steamboat Stoveworks.
Perhac said the college would be sensitive not to disturb the nearby hot springs.
On Thursday, updated bids for the new campus building were due to the college, Perhac said. He said the college would review the 25 proposals it received from companies across the country to narrow the list to three finalists that will give presentations scheduled for March 31.
Skramstad has said the college would like to start building the access road this summer. Perhac said there's no timetable for completing the negotiations on the Dike's property.
College officials haven't determined exactly what the new building would be used for. Possibilities include a main entry hub; offices for administration, student affairs, registration and admission; a 300-seat assembly hall auditorium; an exercise facility, a bookstore and cyber cafe; a dining hall; a student union; a learning lab; a wellness center; and classrooms for ski business, outdoor studies, resort management, emergency medical training, culinary arts, art, wellness and martial arts.