Our View: Helping with Yellow Line gives CMC chance to show it is the community’s college
October 27, 2012
On Friday, Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus received the Navigator Award as the 2012 Business of the Year.
The award, presented by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, was well-deserved. In August, the college officially opened its new $18 million, 60,000-square-foot academic center. It's a wonderful building that is more than just a home for students — it is a new connection between the school and the city of Steamboat Springs. The center — with its 290-seat theater, beautiful dining facility and state-of-the-art meeting rooms — is perhaps the most visible step CMC has taken in becoming, as CMC officials are fond of saying, the community's college rather than just a community college.
CMC officials have earned the accolades they've received, but if they really want to be the community's college, then they will work in earnest on a deal to help the community with the Yellow Line, the free bus route that serves CMC and the surrounding area.
Last month, city staff looked at cutting the Yellow Line as a way to help fix a $350,000 hole in the budget. The line was targeted because it has less demand than other routes and is the costliest per rider to operate. But at a meeting earlier this month, Steamboat Springs residents made passionate pleas on behalf of preserving the service. The Steamboat Springs City Council responded by adjusting its 2013 revenue projection to forgo the cuts and gave city officials until January to identify a more cost-effective way to run the Yellow Line.
On Thursday, the city's transit department will present a list of potential changes to the service and welcome community feedback during an open house at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
To be fair, CMC is not the only major entity served by the Yellow Line and not everyone who uses the bus service is headed to the college. City Council member Sonja Macys said the city wants to work with a number of partners to save the line, including CMC, Horizons Specialized Services, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and the Steamboat Springs School District.
We appreciate that broad-based approach. The more partners the better. But we do think CMC is in a position to be a leader in contributing to a Yellow Line solution. Foremost, we think having access to routine, free bus service, is a key selling point for a school like CMC, which isn't exactly pedestrian or bike friendly given that it sits on a pretty steep hill on the fringe of downtown.
Earlier this month, CMC asked the city to donate $15,000 to the college to gain naming rights to a conference room in the new academic center. Although the council approved the funding, the irony of the situation was not lost on Council President Bart Kounovsky and council member Cari Hermacinski. The council members indicated they would like to see more progress made on getting CMC's help with the Yellow Line before they agreed to the donation.
Given the circumstances, we don't blame Kounovsky and Hermacinski for their stance. But ultimately, it shouldn't have to come down to a tit-for-tat approach. We believe CMC officials when they say they want the school to be the community's college, and the Yellow Line presents them with an opportunity to underscore that point.