Vail Valley community college campus will double in size |

Vail Valley community college campus will double in size

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyColorado Mountain College's Vail Valley campus in Edwards opened with about the same amount of space it closed in Vail and Eagle. The center in Edwards will more than double in size by the start of the 2011/12 school year, and the $12 million project will be built without the college taking on any debt. This photo dates from 2004, the year the current facility opened.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – When Colorado Mountain College moved its operations from Vail and Eagle to Edwards a few years ago, the college opened just about as much office and classroom space as it closed.

Granted, the space in Edwards was brand-new and wired for all the technology students needed at the time. But the building opened just as the college’s student population boomed. Enrollment has grown more than 25 percent since the Edwards center opened in 2004, and grew 9 percent from the fall term of 2008 to the fall of 2009.

The Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees recently approved construction of a second building at the Edwards campus that will more than double the current space. The $12 million project – for which the college will pay cash – will be roughly the size of the City Market store in Eagle.

The new building will include a student center, a library, a language lab and more classrooms. It will also include space and equipment bays for the college’s popular fire science and emergency medical technician programs. The building will also have a community room that can seat at least 50 people.

Beyond the new space, the building will be built to the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design, or LEED, “gold” standard. The college won’t seek formal certification, though, since that would add between $300,000 and $400,000 to the project’s cost.

College spokeswoman Debbie Crawford said the current plans have come from meetings with both the college’s board of trustees and the Eagle County Partnership for Education board, composed of a pair of county commissioners, a pair of Eagle County School Board members and one member of the public. That board manages the property for the county, which still owns the land.

The project is now in the hands of Edwards-based architect Tab Bonidy’s company, TAB Associates. Bonidy said his company has a lot to do in a relatively short time. Meetings are scheduled with the Miller Ranch Design Review Board and with state education officials, who will issue the final building permit. A general contractor will be on board in the next two months or so.

Bonidy said plans are to hire as many local companies as possible for the roughly year-long project. It’s hard to say how many people will end up working on the building, but Bonidy said it will be “significant.” And, he said, the goal is to hire as many local companies as possible.

“This is really exciting,” college trustee Glenn Davis said. “We’re finally able to grow into the demand we have.”

Davis is a banker by trade – he’s Alpine Bank’s regional president for Eagle and Routt counties – and said having money in the bank for projects like this one is sound financial policy.

“The senior management believes CMC should only go into debt when it’s prudent and necessary to do so,” Davis said. “That means maybe we overlook an opportunity once in a while, but that policy has served us well, even though we’ve had to go without for a while in some locations.”

Not needing to borrow money is a good thing right now, Davis said, since financing is so hard to get right now.

“We might not have been able to get financing if we’d gone that way,” he said.

And, being in a position to build when many others aren’t can benefit taxpayers in other ways.

“It’s a great time to get a lot of value in terms of costs and materials,” Bonidy said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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