Council gives CMC go-ahead for access road | SteamboatToday.com

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Council gives CMC go-ahead for access road

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

Crawford Avenue resident Sarah Katherman stands at the base of her driveway

— 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