CMC’s compressor station deal with SourceGas doesn’t pass the sniff test |

CMC’s compressor station deal with SourceGas doesn’t pass the sniff test

Post IndependentOpinion
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

Colorado Mountain College’s recent plans (now on hold) to allow SourceGas to build a compressor station on college property just doesn’t make the grade.

For one thing, the land was donated for educational use, as has been pointed out by the families of the ranchers who made the original, generous land donations.

Nevertheless, this is not just a battle between the higher purpose of higher education and the reality that facilities such as these are part of our daily lives. As CMC President Stan Jensen said, the money generated from the lease would “go into student needs and college needs.” One could argue that by generating income, the land would, in fact, be used for educational purposes.

But how much money would make the deal pass the sniff test? Surely not the $12,000 per year in the agreement. It can’t be worth the bad publicity and hard feelings among neighbors, benefactors and students for such a trifling sum.

As it now stands, the deal is on hold for up to six months. It’s likely that the proposal could face a legal challenge, and lawyers may well be looking into the terms of the original land donations. It could be that a compressor station is simply not allowed on the property.

But should the land lease go forward, CMC should press for a better deal for lease payments. How much money would this industrial encroachment on five acres of the college’s open space be worth? We urge CMC to investigate comparable land lease rates for industrial facilities to make sure the college is getting a competitive rate.

The school should also take a firm stance on potential impacts the compressor station could have by insisting upon strict conditions in the county rezoning process to mitigate noise, odor, light pollution, air pollution and wildlife impacts.

If SourceGas’s deal with CMC falls through, the utility will be looking for another site elsewhere along the pipeline route. The utility needs to keep Spring Valley residents informed on new site options.

Spring Valley residents may find that a different site, selected somewhere else along the route of the existing natural gas pipeline, is even less agreeable than the current proposed location. As Jensen noted, nobody would want this in their backyard, so he offered to put it in CMC’s backyard.

While Jensen’s heart is clearly in the right place in offering an over-the-ridge chunk of CMC’s Spring Valley property for a compressor station, we can’t support the SourceGas deal in its original form. With some negotiating, though, it could pass the test.

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