Steamboat resident questions CMC project
John Fielding asks City Council to reconsider campus secondary access
March 13, 2012
Steamboat Springs — A neighbor of Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus is worried that the approved secondary access required with the construction of the new classroom and administration building will waste taxpayer dollars.
John Fielding, who lives at 12th and Oak streets, said the Crawford Avenue spur won't serve the campus as college officials intended and will be obsolete when it eventually has to be replaced by a permanent access point.
"I don't know that any of that's true," CMC Facilities Director Peter Waller said. "It might be. We don't know. We don't have any projected growth."
Fielding has asked that the Steamboat Springs City Council reconsider action permitting the Crawford spur secondary access.
"Millions of dollars will be spent, far more than originally planned, to create this roadway that will be of limited service. A new roadway will be required if the college continues to expand," he said. "Basically, it's a waste of taxpayers' money, and it's being done in order to satisfy a regulation that very likely could be relaxed or given a temporary variance to give them more time to come up with a better roadway."
The city required a secondary access road for fire and emergency service vehicles as a component of the project to build the 60,000-square-foot facility.
CMC initially proposed to build the access from 13th Street, a project that would have cost an estimated $8 million. But after the City Council expressed concern that it would infringe on Iron Springs Park and college officials decided the cost would be prohibitive, they moved on to the Crawford spur.
Widening and grading the steep, narrow city right-of-way was estimated to cost $1 million to $1.5 million, but Waller said changes to the project to meet the city's specifications would increase that price tag.
Steamboat Springs Planner Seth Lorson said the proximity to Bob Adams Drive, the campus' primary access, required a variance from the city's fire code. He said a condition of the variance was installing sprinklers in city buildings without them.
Because Willett and Bogue halls are scheduled for demolition, that leaves only the campus' maintenance building and maintenance garage without sprinklers.
Fire Marshal Jay Muhme said then Fire Chief Ron Lindroth's approval of the variance was a good compromise for the access roads being too close to meet the code.
"Basically, we have an entirely sprinklered campus and a tradeoff for a few hundred feet separation distance," he said.
In addition to the sprinklers, Waller said the city required the college to expand the Crawford spur and 12th Street intersection and realign the portion of 12th between Oak Street and Crawford Avenue about 20 feet east on city right-of-way, which would require a more than 10-foot-tall retaining wall next to the road.
Waller said he didn't know what the new cost would be. He said that figure would be available during a public meeting about the project at 5 p.m. March 29 in the library on campus.
The City Council approved the two-lane road in January 2011 but limited access to trucks weighing less than 12,000 pounds. Council members also approved a development agreement with the college at about that time.
City Manager Jon Roberts said the City Council could reconsider the project if a council member asked that it be placed on a future agenda.
"I believe we've got an agreement with the college in regards to how this is supposed to transpire," City Council President Bart Kounovsky said. "At this time, I don't see anything that would cause us to change the agreement between the city and CMC."
Waller said the Crawford spur project is scheduled to begin on about May 1.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com