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CMC eyes Forest Service land for future campus

JULIE SUTOR
summit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE ” Colorado Mountain College (CMC) has steered away from three potential political land mines in the search for the future location of its Summit campus.

The college’s board voted Monday to cross off the list the controversial 9.4-acre parcel behind Safeway; a portion of the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area; and the existing Summit Medical Center.

The college will instead focus on two parcels of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land adjacent to Frisco ” one along Highway 9 near the County Commons, the other sandwiched between the Dillon Dam Road and Interstate 70 just north of the town boundary.

“I think we’re in a great place,” said campus dean Leah Bornstein. “We’ve ended up with two fabulous options. Each has different contributions it would make to the college, and each has different challenges.”

Tuesday’s vote pulled the college out of the debate surrounding the fate of the 9.4-acre parcel, for which many community members have touted CMC as an attractive alternative to retail development.

The Summit Medical Center site as a future campus location was tied indirectly to the 9.4-acre parcel, since income from retail development on the town-owned land would have funded the town’s purchase of the medical campus for the college.

The board also steered away from a possible political show-down at the peninsula. Construction of a college campus at the recreation-centered site would have required voter approval.

In contrast, CMC staff and board members view the two parcels of USFS land as requiring far less political capital but offering far more room for facilities expansion in the long-term as the college and Summit County’s population grows and build-out makes land a scarce commodity.

“I was looking at our immediate-term needs,” Bornstein said of the college’s initial consideration of the 9.4-acre and medical center sites. “But we need to be good, long-term stewards of the college. We need to be sure that seven-10 years from now, 15-20 years from now, there’s going to be enough property.”

Bornstein said the college would ideally like to situate the future campus on about 20 acres.

Either of the two USFS parcels would require a land trade with the federal agency, which could take a year or longer. The town of Frisco plans to continue to stay involved with the process, most notably in its commitment to purchase the land, and also by helping to facilitate negotiations with USFS representatives and local agencies. Should the college settle on either of the two parcels, the price tag would likely be in the millions for the town.

“Both of these sites work for the town, and we’re excited to continue working with CMC,” town manager Michael Penny said.

The property along the Dillon Dam Road landed in the mix when it caught the eye of local developer Tom Silengo. Silengo is exploring the site’s viability for a residential development ” which could include affordable housing units ” and a neighboring CMC campus.

In the coming months, the college plans to examine the two USFS sites more closely in preparation for a final decision by summer’s end.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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