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Community college will keep Eagle building

Kathy Heicher
Daily file photo Pressure by Eagle County residents convinced the Colorado Mountain College trustees not to sell its building in Eagle. The building will likely be leased the Eagle County School District.
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Colorado Mountain College will continue to have a physical presence in Eagle, although use of its downtown building could change dramatically.

The Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to retain ownership of their building in Eagle. The trustees also voted to negotiate a five- to seven-year lease of the facility to the Eagle County School District. Although details must be worked out, that arrangement likely will involve the school district using the building for its alternative high school during the day and the community college using the building for continuing education classes in the evening.

The decision, made at the trustees meeting in Steamboat Springs, followed two months in which local citizens rallied in support of the facility after learning college administrators wanted to explore selling the building once the college’s new campus opens in Edwards in the fall. College administrators had cited cost effectiveness, and a lack of utilization of the Eagle building during the day as a factor in their decision.

Citizens voiced their support for a local community college presence at a packed public input session two weeks ago. Several members of the college board of trustees said they had received about 30 letters from citizens expressing concern.

“My perception is that the community values this campus so much,” said Lake Count trustee Helen Weiss. She urged the board to not only retain the building, but to also expand it’s programs.

“There has been tremendous growth in the communities between Wolcott and Gypsum … it is almost imperative to have this center and grow it,” she said.

Trustees Jacque Whitsitt of El Jebel and Richard Bateman of Summit County argued that the college should preserve its options by retaining ownership of the Eagle building. Bateman said some aggressive growth rates are projected in the west end of the Eagle Valley.

“By holding it, we are maintaining our foot in the county,” he said.

A small contingent of Eagle County leaders attended the meeting to urge support for the college holding onto the Eagle facility.

“At no time when we were negotiating the agreement for Edwards did we say the CMC building in Eagle would be closed in order to make Edwards happen,” said County Commissioner Tom Stone. Noting that he is a Realtor in his private life, Stone argued that the building is an asset that will continue to grow in value if the college holds onto it for a few years.

Former Eagle Mayor Roxie Deane warned the trustees that here was a perception that the college is pulling out of the community.

“Ownership of the building is a real important message,” she said.

The trustees indicated an interest in a possible future arrangement that would involve college and the Eagle County School District working together to create a facility in the west end of the valley.

However, college Vice President David Borofsky said the college had always intended to continue to offer services in western Eagle County. He cited a plan that Vail-Eagle Valley Campus Deane Peggy Curry had drawn up, indicating that classes would be held in available spaces in local school buildings in the Eagle and Gypsum area.

“There was never an indication that would give any less service or education in Eagle County,” Borofsky said.

He added that another new building in the Eagle Valley is not included in the college’s 10 year capital plan.


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