Historic schoolhouse poised for a bookish rebirth in Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

Historic schoolhouse poised for a bookish rebirth in Breckenridge

Caddie Nath
summit daily news
Special to the Daily

BRECKENRIDGE – Art, history and the housing authority topped the Breckenridge Town Council’s list of possible uses for the extra rooms and offices designated as community space in the future library planned for the old CMC building.

“This is very exciting,” Councilman Ben Brewer said. “It’s shaping up to be an amazing center. Hopefully, there will be synergy there among the organizations.”

Town officials said they want to dedicate extra space in the century-old school building to tenants that will serve the community, fit with the building’s historic character and draw people to the library and community center.

Of eight local entities who expressed interest in the space, the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance’s proposal for an archive that would include meeting spaces and display cases featuring Summit County artifacts won the most support from the council.

“It’s a natural fit,” Councilman Mark Burke said.

Town officials also talked about providing wall space throughout the building for the Breckenridge Art Commission to host rotating art exhibits, as well as possibly offering office and educational space to the Summit Combined Housing Authority.

The housing authority, which currently operates out of a smaller location in downtown Breckenridge, requested 2,000 square feet in the new library to be used for offices, file storage and a community room where buyer classes would be hosted.

“The majority of our work is done in the Upper Blue (River Basin),” director Jennifer Kermode said. “Our preference would be to stay in the Upper Blue to actually better serve more of the people.”

Breckenridge officials said they were interested in providing the housing authority space, but likely not the full amount requested.

Council members nixed requests for a yoga studio, storage and office space for the Backstage Theatre and exam rooms for the Community Care Clinic.

The council has not made any final decisions on use of the community space.

The old CMC building was constructed as a school at the turn of the 20th century. In later years it became the local Colorado Mountain College, earning its current unofficial moniker.

The town of Breckenridge purchased the building in 2009, intending to renovating it as a community facility. After years of debating different possible uses for the historic structure, the town partnered with Summit County government to refinish and transform the building into the new site of the south library branch.

The existing south branch, located near the justice center, is overcrowded and too small to meet the community’s needs, according to library and county officials. The county was preparing to construct a new library building when Breckenridge officials suggested repurposing the old CMC structure instead.

“This partnership is in the best interest of our community at large, saving taxpayer dollars and protecting a Summit County historical icon,” County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said of the project.

The controversial renovation project is expected to cost approximately $7 million, with the better part of the bill to be split between county and Breckenridge coffers.

Work on the building is set to begin in July 2013 and finish the following summer.

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