University and city officials gathered to salute Cree Bol, who has spent the last two years working to bridge the divide between the university population and the residents of Fort Collins.
Bol is leaving her position as community coordinator liaison with CSU and the city of Fort Collins. A crowd gathered at the Neighborhood Services Building in downtown Fort Collins Tuesday afternoon to show their appreciation for her dedication. Bol will be moving to the Pioneer School for Expeditionary Learning to serve as adventure facilitator.
The community coordinator liaison position was a brainchild of the city and the university, devised with the goal of building healthier student/resident relationships, said Bol, who was the first person to take the newly-created job in November of 2001. The position is a joint effort between the city and the university with each paying half of the $32,000 salary.
“Cree was the perfect person to come in and turn a vision into a real world program with concrete events,” said Ruthanne Kastner, manager of Neighborhood Services for the city of Fort Collins.
The Great Sofa Round-up is an example of how Bol turned an idea into a reality, Kastner said. The city and the university both recognized that couches being illegally dumped in alleys or left in yards were becoming a problem. To solve the problem the sofa-round up program offered free couch pick-up service for students and residents. The event, in its second year, took place Aug.1 -10 in the Moby Arena parking lot where 1,100 people attended and 260 sofas were given away free.
“We took a potential negative and turned it into a positive,” Bol said.
Not only were couches prevented from being illegally dumped or burned but lots of needy families in the community benefited from the free furniture, Bol said. She said that too often students and citizens only meet over negative issues such as noise or parking problems.
“We wanted to create positive opportunities for interaction,” she said. Bol pointed to this summer’s Tuesday Nite-Out Concert series as a perfect example of citizens and students coming together to have fun and feel like part of the same community. As part of this series students and residents united to enjoy free music in a different local park on certain Tuesday nights this summer.
The major obstacle between the student population and the year-round residents of the city is simple communication, Bol said. She recommends that off-campus students take the time to introduce themselves to their neighbors and exchange phone numbers so that they can work out any problems that might arise instead of calling the police.
“It’s a case of overcoming stereotypes and realizing students and residents are both members of the same community,” Bol said.
Co-workers present at the reception were unanimous in their praise for Bol.
“We’re sad to see her go,” said Robin Macdonald, code compliance inspector for the city.
Bol’s successor at CSU has not yet been named but a search process has been started and the position should be filled by January 1, said Jeannie Ortega, director of Off -Campus Services.
“I get along great with my non-student neighbors,” said Lee Dickey, a sophomore studying agriculture business. “But I think someone who acts as a go-between is a good idea for some neighborhoods.”