CMC to double size of its Edwards building |

CMC to double size of its Edwards building

Scott N. Miller
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. – When Peggy Curry got to Colorado Mountain College, people would come to class in their ski boots. Since the college opened its campus at Edwards in 2004, though, people seem to take the college more seriously.

The college’s growth since 2004 has the current crushed for space – even a vending machine room has been turned into an office.

With enrollment expected to top 5,000 this school year, the Edwards campus will more than double in size by the time the 2011-12 school year starts. Representatives from the college Tuesday talked to the Eagle County Commissioners for a “courtesy review” of the project. Because of the state’s rules about community colleges, the county doesn’t have any enforcement power over the expansion plan. County officials were consulted, though, and the plan earned a relatively glowing approval from the commissioners.

At the heart of the plan is the addition of more than 32,000 square feet to the 30,000 square foot building now on the property. Parking will be expanded, too, by 128 spaces. Work on the project will start in late July or early August and take 11 months.

Lead architect Tab Bonidy told the commissioners the new building will be built to LEED standards, but the college won’t take on the added expense of having the building certified by the Green Building Council, which runs the program.

The addition – which will be built on the west side of the current building – will feature new classrooms and offices, of course, but it will also have an outdoor plaza suitable for small concerts. The college’s popular fire science program will also be expanded, and college officials are now looking for a fire truck to park in the new bay to be built on the front side of the building.

Curry, who’s run the college’s local campus for several years, is excited about the new plans, and especially the college’s location.

“You all need to appreciate that this is very unique,” Curry told the commissioners. “You’ve taken 16 acres of prime real estate for education. That tells me this county takes education very seriously.”

Curry reminded the commissioners that when she arrived at the college, one campus was at the Cascade in Vail and other was in an old building in downtown Eagle.

“It really had the feel of a storefront college,” she said. “But CMC started feeling like a college campus as soon as we opened in Edwards. The students, the faculty, everyone got more serious about education when we moved.”

Enrollment started growing almost as soon as the Edwards campus opened, too, to the point that college officials started planning this expansion in 2008.

The commissioners told Curry and other college officials that they like almost everything about this plan except the expansion of parking. While a 150-space parking structure would eat up virtually all of this project’s $8 milllion budget, the commissioners said that future expansion plans will need to have some sort of underground or other covered parking. They also encouraged college officials to work more closely with the Eagle County School District and the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District to work on ways to share parking between Battle Mountain High School, the recreation district’s new field house and the college.

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