Historic silos in Fort Collins at center of controversy

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A group is trying to prevent a manufacturing company from repurposing two historic silos that were built by John Coy, one of Colorado State University’s founders, more than a century ago.

The silos, along with a barn and milk house, sit on a plot of land owned by Woodward Inc. Woodward purchased the property a few years ago.

The group Save Our Silos said Woodward told the community it would protect and preserve the silos.

“In response to a question [at a previous community meeting], 'Will you keep the barn and silos,' and they said, ‘Yes, we will keep the barn and silos,’” said Gina Janett, chairwoman for Save Our Silos.

But Woodward said it promised to enhance the campus the silos are on. Steve Stiesmeyer, Woodward's director of corporate real estate, said Woodward does not want to demolish the silos but instead wants to repurpose them.

“It was an alternate reuse plan that we said, 'I think we can make this happen' because the silos in their current state, we don’t really have a way of stabilizing them and keeping them at a reasonable cost and we’re not even sure it’s possible,” Stiesmeyer said.

Stiesmeyer said the silos have become so dangerous that they’re at risk of falling apart. But Save Our Silos said that’s not true and the silos are still considered sturdy.

“The chief building official [for Fort Collins] said they won’t fall down at any minute,” Janett said.

Mike Gebo, Fort Colliins’ chief building official, said the silos are considered dangerous, but they’re not "imminently dangerous." Under regular "dangerous" status, structures only need to be repaired, Gebo said. But if they’re "imminently dangerous," they need to be demolished.

Gebo said Woodward is hoping to get the silos labeled "imminently dangerous" at an April 19 city meeting.

Woodward said it wants to take the silos and turn them into 4-5-foot tall recreational hangout areas and also turn the neighboring barn into a community conference center. It also wants to create an educational area near the silos, explaining their history.

Woodward said it will pay for the project, which will cost around $2.5 million.

Save Our Silos wants the silos left alone and wants Woodward to put money toward repairing them.


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