College eyes Dam Road site if Home Depot passes |

College eyes Dam Road site if Home Depot passes

summit daily news

FRISCO ” Should the Home Depot ballot issue pass Tuesday, money from the sale of the 9.4-acre parcel could help facilitate the acquisition of property along the Dam Road earmarked by Colorado Mountain College (CMC) as the site for its new Summit County campus.

Frisco officials say that would move the town one step closer to fulfilling the commitment the council made in February when it voted to pursue retail development on the 9.4-acre parcel.

At that meeting, council member Rick Amico said: “Prior to final council action to select a preferred development plan for the 9.4-acre parcel, council will assure the availability of a suitable location for the CMC campus in Frisco.” Council voted to support Amico’s statement.

However, Forest Service representative Paul Semmer cautions against viewing the Dam Road site as an excellent option, given the college’s desired timeline. He said he first heard of CMC’s desire to build on the land in a Summit Daily News article last summer, an unusual way to hear of such a request, he said.

“There’s a very regimented process, and it takes a long time,” Semmer said of land trades. “So it was a bit of a surprise to see in the paper the assumption was that it’s no big deal, just apply for an exchange and you get the land.”

Semmer said CMC’s goal to open the campus in 2009 might be difficult to meet under a land trade scenario.

“If CMC realizes that they need to secure a piece of property and start building on it in the short term ” meaning less than the next five years ” then obviously they need to be looking at an alternative,” he said.

But town officials and CMC say no promises to secure land for the college have been broken.

“I’ve been very much in the loop the whole way,” said CMC dean Leah Bornstein. “(Town manager) Michael Penny and I have been sharing information very transparently. I don’t feel like there’s a bait-and-switch going on here at all.”

At the time of the February council vote, CMC had named the 9.4 acres in its list of desired properties, driving Amico’s words of commitment. However, the college changed its priorities in June, deciding that 20 acres would better accommodate growth.

As the college’s desires changed, so did the situation, Penny said.

“The context of the conversation was nine acres,” he said. “The real issue there was, at the time, it was believed that CMC could have been a viable use on that site.”

Despite the anticipated timeline for a land trade, Amico said the town has met its February commitment.

“There’s no breach of contract ” my statements were very clear,” he said. “We do have a viable location, and they have given us their preferred location.”

A firm recently completed an appraisal of the Forest Service property along the Dam Road, estimating an $80,000 per-acre value on the land just beyond the Lake Forest condos at the northern edge of Frisco.

The town appraisal, which has not been approved by the Forest Service, estimates that 28 acres will accommodate the college’s needs. Five acres are needed to create a buffer with the Lake Forest condos and three acres would be set aside to address Forest Service concerns, such as view corridors.

Including street improvements and a turn lane into the condominium complex, Penny said he feels comfortable that the report’s final $3.29 million estimate is a good ballpark figure.

The 9.4 acres Home Depot proposes to build on is valued at more than $6 million. The Forest Service does not sell property directly, however, but trades it for property of equal value.

– Dec. 2004 ” Colorado Mountain College (CMC) trustees vote to

consolidate the Breckenridge and Dillon campuses in Frisco.

– Feb. 2005 ” Frisco Town Council votes to pursue retail development at the 9.4-acre parcel, taking CMC’s first choice off the table, but agrees not to allow any retailer to break ground at the site if the college has not found a suitable location in town.

– June 2005 ” After looking closely at the Summit Medical Center site, CMC decides that it wants more space than originally planned and places two 20-acre parcels of national forest land atop its list. The forest service reacts by saying that land trade negotiations could take as long as six years.

– Nov. 2005 ” Breckenridge passes a Memorandum of Understanding to prepare for the purchase of CMC’s campus in town, setting aside 20 acres north of town in the process.

– Dec. 2005 ” Land trade negotiations involving Frisco, CMC and the Forest Service remain on hold awaiting Tuesday’s Home Depot vote. If the measure passes, Frisco plans to use the money from the sale of the property to acquire land elsewhere to trade with the Forest Service.

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