sweet_new_property_beats_old_hole

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

How easy would it be if we had the luxury of awaking only 15 minutes before class and running across the street to our classroom? Convenience is all everybody wants, right?

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

Different options in consideration for new student housing

Three different options are available right now to address the waiting list, Schaffer said. One is the Hynds Capitol Core Project, a private enterprise that would have students reside downtown; secondly, the Sweetgrass Development proposed by the Lummis Livestock Co. to offer student housing across College Drive south of the college; and, finally, the college’s 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, two board meetings have discussed the Hynds project on 16th Street or Lincolnway and Capitol Avenue, with the trustees agreeing more formally to explore the interest by surveying students to determine whether they would want to live downtown. This project would also involve filling in the “hole” next to the Hynds Building, which was created years ago by a fire. The Hynds Building, constructed in 1919 to be fireproof, escaped serious damage. Since then, this area has been the subject of controversy throughout the community.

Two options caught the attention of the president

“I am excited about it,” Schaffer said, noting its benefits to students with affordable housing and benefits to downtown with 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 employees, but at this point, it’s so early in the process, he said, we do not know what LCCC’s role would be in the development.

The Sweetgrass Development, proposed by the 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 multifamily housing, which Del Lummis, spokesman for the development, said could be used for LCCC student housing.

Lummis wants to work with college on student housing idea

According to Lummis, there is no clear agenda yet on how the college and his company could ultimately partner whether it will be land owned or leased by the college. Although he made it very clear he and everyone working to make the Sweetgrass Development successful want to work with the college to have a partnership in the design process, decisions still must made on what will work best and be appropriate for students. “I want LCCC to be successful,” he said. The housing units for LCCC would be affordable and appropriate for students, Lummis said, and students who lack sufficient transportation would 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 afresh and building what we need right across the street?

This issue is not a matter of focusing on who will make the most money off a deal. It is about LCCC students—their convenience and their success.

Frankly, it is not the job of LCCC to “revive” the downtown area because no one else has taken on that burden in the past eight years. That probably is because everyone knows this is a money pit few have wanted to touch. LCCC should not put the project on its shoulders when easier and more suitable solutions for the lack of housing on campus are available.

Housing across the street is a superb option for its location and for its flexibility.

The Hynds Building project might result in the “revival” of the downtown area, but many problems are also associated with this option.

What’s wrong with the downtown location? Let us count the ways.

Let’s be honest, there are few affordable restaurants and no grocery stores. Moreover, what college student will frequent the souvenir shops for Western knickknacks?

The downtown area is also filled with constant traffic, intoxicated transients, limited parking and excessive noise. Furthermore, there is the issue of transportation to LCCC. If you lived downtown, would you take a bus? Bus fare would get costly. Would you get a ride from a friend? You would need to find someone willing first. Would you get your own car? There is still that lingering problem of parking.

Also, is the cause really valid enough to put multiple college resources into the project, so nontraditional students with children and older students can live downtown?

The rent would need to be awfully attractive to justify it.

Robert Van Cleave, LCCC instructor of computer information systems, said he believed it would be a huge mistake to become involved with the Hynds property. “The ownership of the 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,” he said.

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,” he said.

However, he would caution against actual investment in properties unless LCCC is ultimately given complete ownership.

In any case, Van Cleave 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.

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.

Comparing the two options, it seems as if it should be a no-brainer: The sweetness of living in a new property beats the hell out of falling into an old hole.