Steamboat resident circulates petitions supporting CMC expansion
October 27, 2010
Steamboat Springs — About 30 people have signed a petition at Ciao Gelato supporting the expansion of Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus and encouraging the city to endorse the proposal to construct a secondary access road at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue.
It's one of 50 petitions placed at downtown businesses about two weeks ago by Steamboat Springs resident John Fielding, who lives near the campus off Bob Adams Drive.
With CMC's proposal to construct a secondary access road to the campus at 13th and Lincoln scrapped and its consideration of expanding the Crawford Avenue spur, Fielding said he thought he had to do something.
He said the college has gone from proposing a secondary access road that was beyond state requirements to the bare minimum.
"If that's the direction they continue to take, the Alpine Campus is in trouble," Fielding said. He said the campus could become the premier location of CMC's 11-campus system.
CMC President Stan Jensen has said the college is considering all options, including completing the planned 50,000-square-foot geoexchange facility at the Alpine Campus, moving the campus outside of Steamboat but within Routt County, or splitting it into two satellite locations.
On Tuesday, Jensen said it would take a financial contribution from the city, mitigating the impact to the hillside and not encroaching on Iron Springs and West Lincoln parks — all concerns raised by the Steamboat Springs City Council at a Sept. 7 meeting — to revisit the 13th and Lincoln proposal. The cost estimate for the road was $8 million of the $23 million project cost.
"We're still talking with the city all the time," he said.
City Council President Cari Hermacinski said that despite the concerns raised at the September meeting, council members voted in support of five questions to move the project forward. She noted that one of the questions was whether the city was willing to share the cost of intersection improvements, which council members approved, 5-1.
"I definitely think one of the core functions of government is roads and transportation corridors. That's an incredibly important intersection to our community," Hermacinski said. "The $8 million is an awfully big number, whether you're looking at it from the college's or city's perspective. It depends on how much they'd ask the city to kick in and where we'd find that money."
In addition to 13th and Lincoln being a better proposal for the city and college, Fielding said expanding the Crawford spur would create traffic problems for the neighborhood.
George Lund and his wife, Alice, who also live in the neighborhood adjacent to the Alpine Campus, have distributed information encouraging other neighbors to urge the City Council's support of the original secondary access proposal.
"It would be better for city and college, a way of not being intrusive to an ancient neighborhood," Lund said.
Jensen said CMC continues to talk with the Dike family about buying its 1.49-acre property at 13th and Lincoln, which would be necessary for the secondary access road. He said the college and Dikes have discussed a "right of first refusal." The agreement would allow CMC the option of buying the property if the Dikes found another buyer, Jensen said.
Harry Dike and his son, Harrison, didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.
Fielding said he would pick up the petitions Monday to present the City Council members at their Tuesday meeting, when they will consider dissolving the intergovernmental agreement with the college, which requires it to go through the city planning and approval process.
Of all the business owners who agreed to take a petition, Fielding said Ciao Gelato owner Lynne Romeo was the most enthusiastic.
"The college does so much for our community," Romeo said. "I support that. So many adults take classes, the high school kids. For it to offer four-year degrees would be such an advantage for the kids here. I said we'd love to be able to support the expansion. How could anybody say that's not a good situation for the town of Steamboat?”