Golden’s growing pains with university

Residents voice opinion on growth while School of Mines goes through process for rezone to build residence hall

Posted 3/13/18

It’s something almost every Golden resident is familiar with — attending meetings to learn about the Colorado School Mines’ newest plans for growth. The question is: what happens next, said one …

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Golden’s growing pains with university

Residents voice opinion on growth while School of Mines goes through process for rezone to build residence hall

Posted

It’s something almost every Golden resident is familiar with — attending meetings to learn about the Colorado School Mines’ newest plans for growth.

The question is: what happens next, said one attendee at a March 8 neighborhood meeting that Mines hosted to get some community input on its master plan.

Recently, Mines completed its comprehensive plan, which included taking a look at what it’s good at, what it wants to be better at and how to get there, said Neal Kessler, a consultant with SmithGroupJJR which is helping the Colorado School of Mines with its master plan.

“We want to do some nice things for the campus and the community,” Kessler said. “The master plan will tell us how to accomplish these goals.”

He added that a master plan is similar to a road map that helps navigate how to accommodate growth, and meet student needs and academics.

Mines’ last master plan was written in 2003, and Chris Cocallas, the university’s architect and executive director of capital planning and design, made some revisions in 2010.

“We’re not throwing the old one out,” Cocallas said. “We’re not starting over, but we are taking a comprehensive look at it.”

The master plan has not been drafted yet, he added, and is still in the “garnering information” phase — and that includes community input from Golden residents.

Residents had an opportunity to provide input at the March 8 meeting by sticking dots on a map that demonstrated what they thought needed to be preserved and where they thought Mines would have the best opportunities for growth. Although not everything had consensus, some examples of the input included: the M on Mount Zion being too bright now that LED lights are used, there is too abrupt of a transition between the town and the college and residents want to preserve the surrounding historic residential district and the land along the creek.

One thing that prompted a lot of conversation is the concern of the influx of students and traffic that spills in to the neighborhoods to meet students’ parking needs.

Parking is a big hurdle to overcome, Cocallas said.

“The system today is starting to be strained,” he said. “We’ll be looking at building more parking garages through the years.”

Mines’ first parking garage, not yet under construction, will be located at 13th and Maple streets. It will be four levels with about 650 parking spaces.

Parking problems are not solved by building more capacity, said Golden resident Tom Atkins, noting that parking has been an issue for at least 30 to 40 years.

“What the campus has done,” he said, “is forced the city to change its parking policies. This has affected all Golden residents.”

Another growth need Mines is currently working on is building a new residence hall for its freshmen students. Currently, the school has a requirement for all freshmen to live on campus. However, this may be also eventually expanded to sophomores, Cocallas said.

On March 7, Golden’s Planning Commission unanimously approved a rezoning request submitted by Mines to build a new residence hall.

Mines’ Residence Hall VI projected is planned to be a 110,000 square foot building with five floors, expected to be 64 feet in height. It is proposed to be located in the parking lot directly west of the Starzer Welcome Center, between 18th and 19th streets.

The building will be designed in traditional Mines architecture style. It will allow for about 416 beds for freshmen students. The building will have common spaces, such as student lounges, laundry, bike storage, gaming space and a mailroom.

The rezoning now is pending city council approval.

The new parking garage is scheduled to be completed in December 2019, and construction is to begin on the new residence hall this November. The new residence hall should be able to start hosting students in the fall 2020 semester.

Golden touts local charm and historic roots, said Edee Gail, who has lived in Golden for the past 21 years. Both could be lost if Mines continues to grow in ways that affect the neighborhoods, she said, especially the historic district.

More traffic and more competition for limited housing can lead to “the real risk of changing our small-town charm,” Gail said. She added that an inter-governmental agreement between the city of Golden and the School of Mines would “certainly assist in more cooperation between the two entities.”

“It is also vital for the residents of Golden to be actively engaged with the planning of Colorado School of Mines because changes internal to the school can and will have a huge impact on the livability and viability of the rest of the city,” she said. “I understand and respect that all things change. It is our responsibility as current residents to shape the Golden that our children will inherit.”

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