Summit County, Breckenridge shake hands on old CMC library partnership
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE – Summit County and the town of Breckenridge approved a final intergovernmental agreement Tuesday, green lighting an estimated $7 million renovation project to repurpose the old CMC building into a library and community center.
The town and county will split the cost of the renovation and redesign. Any money collected through fundraising efforts will also back the project.
“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.
Space in the renovated building will be dedicated primarily to housing the south branch of the Summit County Libraries. There will also be room for community use to be determined by the town, and an upgraded Speakeasy movie theater will continue to be housed in the basement.
Work on the building is set to begin in July 2013 and be completed the following summer.
Public reactions to the project have been mixed. Some community members argue the renovation is an unnecessary capital expense during tight fiscal times for local governments.
“The point I just can’t get past is the price of this transaction,” Breckenridge resident Ken Bell told the town council at a recent meeting. “The town is giving up its premium space on this and paying about 60 percent of the total cost. … I don’t see how that is a good deal for the taxpayer of Breckenridge.”
But local officials say the project will save both the town and county money by combining two projects – the old CMC renovation and the construction of a new library – which would have been more expensive independently.
The library at the old CMC building was pitched as an alternative to building a new $3 million structure for the facility.
Breckenridge was budgeting $5-$6 million to renovate the old CMC building.
“Some in the county believe that the project could cost the town an extra $4 million,” County Commissioner Thomas Davidson stated. “It’s just the opposite. With the town and county working cooperatively, there is actually a $2.5-$3 million saving.”
Others have criticized the town, saying there was a lack of public involvement in the decision-making process on the future of the building.
Representatives of the Peak School, the current tenant of the building, have asked the town to consider renovating the building as a school with their backing.
The county voted unanimously to move forward with the project despite the community pushback. The motion passed 6-1 in Breck, with Gary Gallagher opposed
“Someday all the clouds will clear and everyone will think this was a really great project,” Councilwoman Jen McAtamney said.
The project also received unanimous endorsement from the library board and the Summit County Library Foundation.
The county government is in for $2.67 million of the estimated $7.4 million cost, while the Breck has committed to picking up the remainder of the tab, according to the intergovernmental agreement approved Tuesday.
The library foundation will have a minimum fundraising goal of $575,000 to offset the total cost of the project. Additional money raised will help purchase amenities for the library and further offset the cost for local governments.
The agreement gives the county a 99-year lease on the Breckenridge-owned building for the library.
Based on current visitation numbers, the new library could host approximately 100,000 people a year.
Officials say the southern part of the county needs a new, larger library space to replace the crowded facility at the Justice Center campus.
Current designs for the library inside the old CMC building call for an open facility with vaulted ceilings in the main room, a mezzanine, windows providing views of the mountains and dedicated spaces for children and other uses.
Breckenridge purchased the 100-year-old CMC building in 2009. It was originally constructed as a high school.
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