Nov. 5, 2012, 4:45 p.m.

Building for convenience

The hustle and bustle of the world today proves we are always in a hurry. Whether it’s shopping for groceries to get home in time to make dinner after work, or rushing from home to school because you don’t want to enter the classroom after everyone is seated.

How easy would it be if you were required to wake up only 10 minutes before class, run across the street to your classroom and pick a seat? Convenience is all everybody wants, right?

Well, that’s where Laramie County Community College is currently struggling. According to LCCC President Dr. Joe Schaffer, there are nearly 100 students on a waiting list for on-campus housing.

There are three different options we have right now, Schaffer said. One being The Hynds Capitol Core Project, which would allow students to reside downtown, The Sweetgrass Development proposed by Lummis Livestock Co. to allow student housing across College Drive south of the college, or following through with the original Master Plan to build more on-campus housing.

The two options that seem to be catching the eye of the president are the Sweetgrass Development and especially the Hynds Building project. Thus far, there have been several meetings mentioning the Hynds project and presentations given to the board of trustees concerning the project.

The farthest the process has gone has been an agreement to allow LCCC to more formally discuss the project, explore further into the Hynds building and surveying students to see if it is a place they would want to live.

Best benefit for students

“I am excited about it,” Schaffer said. There are benefits for the students because it would be affordable housing, help revive the downtown area and it could have a “transformational impact for the area, the community and the students.”

As far as the Sweetgrass Development, Schaffer said the land south of the college could serve students and staff but at this point, it’s so early in the process, he said, that we don’t know what LCCC’s role would be in the development.

That is probably because more time has been spent concentrating on the money pit downtown than it has been in pursuing a simpler, more appropriate option. The Sweetgrass Development, proposed by Lummis Livestock Co., is a plan to develop about 2,300 acres of ranchland south of LCCC.

The project design created by Colorado-based DTJ Design includes nearly 1,100 acres of residential use, 170 acres of commercial development, 40 acres for schools, 417 acres for a golf course, 325 acres of open space and about 34 acres for a park.

The high-density residential area would include multi-family housing, which Del Lummis, front-runner of the development, said could be used for LCCC student housing.

According to Lummis, there is no clear agenda yet on how the college and his organization could ultimately pair with one another in whether it will be land owned or leased by the college. Although, he made it very clear that he, and everyone working to make the Sweetgrass Development successful, wants to work with the college to have a partnership in the design process, decisions made on what will work best and be appropriate for students, and ultimately build something the students will enjoy. “I want LCCC to be successful,” he said.

Convenient for walking

The housing units for LCCC would be affordable and appropriate for students, Lummis said, and students who lack sufficient transportation will be conveniently within walking distance of the college.

Although the entire development may take nearly 50 years to complete, Lummis said the housing for LCCC could be completed within a two year period. The Hynds Capitol Core Project could also be completed within two years, according to President Schaffer.

But, what reason is there to choose a location further from the college, which will take more work and most likely, more money to ‘fix up,’ rather than starting fresh and building what we need right across the street.

This issue is not a matter of focusing on faculty, or about who will make the most money off a deal. It is about LCCC students, convenience for them, and making them successful. Frankly, it is not the job of LCCC to “revive” the downtown area because no one else has taken on the burden.

Because there have been no takers in challenging the issue of “the hole” in the last eight years, doesn’t mean LCCC should put the project on its shoulders when there are easier and more suitable solutions for the lack of housing on campus. Housing across the street is a superb option in convenience, location and the ability to make it exactly what we want it to be.

Building new light for downtown area

The Hynds building project could result in the “revival” of the downtown area, but let’s be honest, there are a few restaurants and stores, but what college student is going to frequent the souvenir shops for western nick nacks?

There is a reason there have been no takers in challenging the issue of “the hole” in the last eight years.

Is the cause really valid enough to put multiple college resources into the project, just so nontraditional students with kids and older students can live downtown near numerous bars, frontier days foot traffic and “enjoy” the downtown area crawling with over-intoxicated bar-hoppers every weekend?

Robert VanCleave, Instructor of Computer Information Systems, said he believed it would be a huge mistake to get involved with the Hynds property. “The ownership of property has changed hands several times over the decades it has been vacant, and no economically feasible development has been able to come close to getting off the ground.”

With right planning Sweetgrass Development could thrive

He said he believed the Sweetgrass Development has great potential and seems to be on firm ground as far as concept, planning, ownership, finances and other aspects. “If this were to come to fruition what a wonderful asset it would be to our campus.” However, he said he would caution against actual investment in properties unless we are ultimately given complete ownership.

In any case, VanCleave said, he believed it is important for LCCC to do whatever it can to provide what is needed for our students in all areas.

Wingspan believes what our students need is not to be used as the enhancing effect of downtown, but to be provided with an appropriate and convenient place to live while attending school.

Decision is a no brainer

The Sweetgrass Development is a wonderful opportunity for students to reside close to the college and as the development progresses, have several attractive businesses to frequent, areas to take children, places to eat, etc.

Having the two options, it seems as if it should be a no-brainer when choosing one. VanCleave said, “The Sweetgrass Development location is superb.”

Hynds capital core project feasibility analysis

Letter of intent