CMC to leave downtown Breck?
BRECKENRIDGE – As Colorado Mountain College (CMC) ponders its future in Summit County, the college’s existing facility in downtown Breckenridge is getting gently nudged out of the picture.College officials are in the early stages of developing a long-term facilities plan for CMC’s Summit Campus, and support is building for construction of new classrooms in Breckenridge, Frisco and/or Dillon.A $6 million renovation of the historic building that now houses the Breckenridge campus center has landed near the bottom of the list of options, based on several months’ worth of student and community input.”I would say renovation is not the community’s preference,” said Summit Campus dean Leah Bornstein. “Some of our staff are really attached to the building, but staying and renovating is probably not the preferred option at this point.”Cramped quarters, lack of room for expansion, a parking crunch and ongoing expenses of maintaining the historic building all make the idea of sinking money into a renovation less attractive than building new classrooms elsewhere.
Through surveys conducted by college officials, most traditional CMC students, ages 18-25 years old, indicated they strongly favor a consolidated campus in Frisco that would replace the two existing locations in Dillon and Breckenridge. Nontraditional students (26 and older) favor consolidation in Frisco or construction of a new facility in Breckenridge and maintaining the second campus center in Dillon.”We are excited about the prospect of CMC coming to Frisco,” said Frisco town manager Michael Penny. “I think a college campus in your community makes a very strong statement about the values in your community. It could be part of a definition of who we are in Frisco.”The existing Summit Medical Center site and the 10-acre parcel of town-owned land behind Safeway are both up for consideration.Bornstein said several factors make consolidation in Frisco an attractive option: central location in the county, close vicinity to Frisco Station shopping center and Summit Stage transfer center, high visibility from Interstate 70 (on the 10-acre parcel) and more efficient use of fiscal and human resources.The town of Dillon has been advocating for consolidation in and around the existing Dillon campus center, but that option did not emerge as a top preference among students, to the disappointment of Dillon officials.
“We have feedback from a variety of learners – both traditional and nontraditional. They prefer a consolidated facility, and when asked about the location, Frisco was the place,” Bornstein said.Dillon town manager Jack Benson argued that Dillon is better positioned geographically, given that future population growth in Summit County will be most robust in and around Silverthorne.”We thought a vision of a consolidated campus in Dillon could be pulled off,” Benson said. “There seems to be support at the council level and from business owners in the core area. It would be a good way to inject some revitalization and energy into the town core.”The consolidation options have some drawbacks for the college: CMC spent $2 million in renovations to the existing Dillon facility just two years ago, a substantial investment to walk away from should the campus move to Frisco. And some students surveyed said that two separate campus sites provide more convenient access than one central location could.Should the college maintain two centers, the town of Breckenridge has offered to swap a parcel of town-owned land, “Block 11,” near Upper Blue Elementary School for the existing building in downtown Breckenridge. A swap would allow the town to use the existing building for much-needed municipal office space. The college would build a new facility on Block 11 and would expand the Dillon facility as needed.
On Nov. 15, CMC’s College Council – the college president and staff, deans from each campus and faculty representatives – will craft a recommendation to the CMC board of trustees. The board will act on the recommendation on Dec. 6.”We want people to understand that these options are based on a lot of feedback from students and the community,” Bornstein said. “All the towns have stepped up and been interested, and I think that’s fabulous. That says a lot about our community.”Regardless of which facilities plan for the college becomes reality, the actual changes will be three to five years down the road.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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