Building boom frames larger picture at CMU
The two construction projects approved by the Colorado Mesa University Board of Trustees last week will add to the remarkable transformation that has taken place on the CMU campus over the past decade.
The trustees approved the sale of revenue bonds — to be repaid from housing fees that students pay — to fund a new $13 million student-housing building that will provide 99 additional beds for students by the beginning of the school year next fall, and another 135 beds by the start of the 2015 school year.
It will be the sixth new residence hall the university has built since the 2005-2006 school year. Moreover, studies indicate there is student demand for additional housing on campus.
The other project — to be paid for with money the university already has in reserve — is a $19.6 million expansion and improvement of the Maverick Center athletic facility and recreation center. The work to be done there will replace a temporary structure with a 49,000-square-foot building that will house basketball and other courts. Additionally, recreation facilities in the existing center will be upgraded and a bridge to the new building will allow for an expanded running track.
Remarkably, all of the work on the Maverick Center is to be completed by the start of the school year next autumn.
Those two projects, and all of the construction that has occurred in recent years, represent more than just temporary-but-important construction jobs and economic impact. They also are testament to the growing interest in CMU by students throughout Colorado and around the country.
And that has occurred not just because the university has significantly added to and improved its bricks-and-mortar infrastructure. It has come primarily because CMU has also substantially expanded its academic offerings and boosted its reputation among prospective college students.
That is good news for this community because it means direct economic impact from students and faculty members who move here, rent or buy houses and purchase all manner of other goods here.
But the benefits go beyond dollars-and-cents calculations. They include additional cultural attractions, both on-campus and off, and new partnerships between people at the university and local governments and nonprofit entities. Equally beneficial are the students who matriculate at CMU, then choose to stay in this community to become entrepreneurs, community leaders or simply hard-working residents of this region.
So, it’s worth celebrating the ongoing major construction at the university, which is important to the local construction industry and the economy.
But the projects are also worth cheering for the larger story they represent — that of a vibrant, growing academic institution that is a stable economic driver and an equally important cultural and educational facility.