CNCC Board to vote on land transfer Thursday

If you go ...

What: Colorado Northwestern Community College Board special meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: CNCC Craig campus, room 255, 2801 W. Ninth St.

—For more information, call 824-1101.

Quotable

“Ideally, if everything works out right, we should see that thing built by the fall.”

— Byron Willems, Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board president, about construction of a proposed fire training facility south of The Memorial Hospital

A vote is one of the few items left before the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board can break ground on a proposed new training facility.

The Colorado Northwestern Community College Board is scheduled to consider a land transfer with the fire district during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in room 255 at CNCC’s Craig campus, 2801 W. Ninth St.

If the board approves the transfer, the facility could be finished before the snow flies.

“Ideally, if everything works out right, we should see that thing built by the fall,” said Byron Willems, Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board president. “But if anything goes wrong, then it may be next spring.”

The proposed facility’s site lies south of The Memorial Hospital on land owned by the college board.

The training center, the first phase in a Craig/Fire Rescue second station, includes a live fire simulator and a 55-foot-tall tower where firefighters can practice working in multi-story buildings.

The fire board approved spending up to $1.5 million for the training facility using funds from a special mill levy voters approved in 2006 and leftover Department of Local Affairs money.

When construction starts, the fire board intends to hire as many local contractors as possible to complete the work, Willems said. “The more we can keep the money here, the better,” he said.

The training center site measures a little less than 15 acres, only a fraction of the 100-acre swath originally owned by the college board.

The college gave a portion of the land to TMH for a new hospital, and it left the door open for donating land for a recreation center, said Gene Bilodeau, Craig campus vice president.

However, the college hadn’t earmarked a purpose for the patch of ground where the fire board plans to build.

“From the beginning, we really did not have any plans, immediate or future, for that parcel,” he said.

Covenants require anything built on the property be related to education, recreation or health care.

Bilodeau believes the training center fits the bill. In addition to educating firefighters, the facility also could benefit CNCC students if the college launched classes in structure firefighting, he said.

The plan to transfer land to the fire board isn’t new — the college board agreed to it several years ago — but recently, after discussions about a training facility resurfaced, residents have asked Bilodeau about the project, he said.

One of the most common concerns revolves around the property’s future.

If the fire board decides not to build there or, years down the line, moves the training facility somewhere else, does Craig get saddled with an empty, blighted area?

“The answer to that is ‘no,’” Bilodeau said. In that case, the land “reverts back to the college in the condition that it was received by the fire district,” he said.

Willems said he expects to see residents at Thursday’s meeting who have voiced opposition to the project.

Ultimately, however, he believes college board members will “make a decision (based on) what’s best for the college, not necessarily get involved in the fire department politics,” he said.

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