CMU wants street vacated to make room for rugby

A public street near Colorado Mesa University may be vacated by the city of Grand Junction and bumped out to the west to accommodate a new rugby playing field and future developments.

The Grand Junction Planning Commission already has approved the university’s request to vacate Cannell Avenue between Kennedy and Texas avenues. Grand Junction city councilors on Wednesday night will decide whether to approve of the change.

CMU already owns and mostly has demolished homes in the proposed expansion area.

“It is important for sure, that’s why we’re asking the city for a vacation,” said Derek Wagner, vice president for intergovernmental and community affairs at CMU. “We are talking with the city about vacating it so we can build.”

Wagner said if the vacation is approved, the university will start construction on a rugby field after school lets out for the summer. The new athletic field, slated for the area between Elm and Kennedy avenues, is expected to be completed before students return to classes in the fall. The university’s rugby team currently practices on an athletic field on Orchard Mesa.

According to drawings, CMU plans to remove the current roadway and replace it with a 20-foot-wide fire and emergency access road that is notched out to the west. The new road would be accessible to the public but will not be outfitted with a sidewalk, the university said in its report to the City Council. A parking lot is slated for the area to the north, just west of a new residence hall south of Garfield Hall. If demand for housing continues, a mirror image of the new Garfield Hall, with an interior courtyard of green space, is slated for the area proposed to be a parking lot, between Elm and Texas avenues.

Two nearby residents oppose the city vacating the roadway.

“This access is more than a mere convenience and also provides safety as the second route for leaving my neighborhood,” neighbor Christina Stark wrote in a letter to city councilors. “If this street is vacated then there will be only one route to enter and exit my home and neighborhood. Cannell Avenue also provides the primary route to the nearest grocery store to my house.”

Neighbor Alissa Leavitt-Reynolds also cited concerns if the roadway is vacated.

“This is both a safety concern and an inconvenience from the perspective of a homeowner and taxpayer who still lives between Cannell Avenue and 7th,” she wrote. “Please consider the residents who still live in this area and their ability to travel legally.”

Several other neighbors, a company that rents out student housing, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and Grand Junction Economic Partnership all penned letters in favor of the city vacating the road in order for the university to continue its westward expansion.

“The continued growth of CMU is good for our community and for our economy,” GJEP penned in its letter of support to the City Council.

Wagner said university officials have talked to neighbors in neighborhood meetings about the future of closing Cannell Avenue. During a meeting Feb. 25, nine participants did not object to the university’s plan to close and reroute the roadway.

Residents in the area will still be able to access alleys that route west to Seventh Street and south to North Avenue or north to Orchard Avenue, he said.

“If you think about it, Cannell is really just an internal road,” Wagner said.

CMU has expressed plans to purchase homes, businesses and the two churches that reside in the neighborhood. The city of Grand Junction contributes $500,000 a year to CMU to help the university purchase homes for its expansion goals.


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