Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Colorado lawmakers block future federal water grabs

#Colorado.

Summit Daily News Link


Colorado lawmakers unanimously made federal water grabs almost impossible.
The Colorado Water Rights Protection Act passed both the Colorado House and Senate without a single dissenting vote. The bill thwarts federal efforts to control or own water that begins on or passes through federal land and to do so without paying for it.
That’s important in our region because about 80 percent of Eagle and Summit counties are federal land, said Glenn Porzak, one of the world’s leading water attorneys.
In fact, the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority both have water infrastructure on federal lands.
Rick Sackbauer, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District board chair, called the bill “a great victory for water right holders in the Eagle River valley and throughout Colorado.”
“The authority and other water providers have made enormous financial investments in water rights and water infrastructure in reliance on state laws,” said George Gregory, Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority board chair.
WATER RIGHTS TRIFECTA
Porzak — with Porzak, Browning & Bushong — is water counsel for Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority and many others. He worked on the bill for three years.
He said the legislation does three things:
1. Forces the feds to buy water rights, instead of taking them by manipulating policy.
2. Forces the feds to go through state water court, in compliance with federal law.
3. Orders Colorado’s state engineer not to enforce any water-rights restriction by the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management and provides tools for water-right holders to fight these agencies in court if necessary.
In other words, if the feds want water rights, then they have to buy them like everyone else does.
“Water rights are a saleable commodity,” Porzak said. “They’re trying to get the water for free. This bill creates a financial disincentive. (The feds) can issue a directive, but they do so at their peril.”
WHY IT BEGAN
The impetus for the bill began in 2012, when the U.S. Forest Service demanded that ski areas, in exchange for renewing their leases on public land, turn over their private state issued water rights to the federal government.
The ski areas sued, and the Forest Service lost on procedural grounds. The court ordered the Forest Service to go back to the drawing board. And, while improvements have been made in the context of ski-area policy, the Forest Service has subsequently issued other policy directives that raise additional concerns for private water-right holders throughout Colorado.
The Forest Service said it was trying to make sure water rights stay with the ski areas and aren’t sold separately if the ski area is sold.
“This legislation is not pie in the sky. It has real substance to it,” Porzak said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Local school district offers ways to avoid 'summer slide'

#Summit County Colorado.

Summit Daily News Link


The end of the school year is now just a month away, but the Summit School District is already doing its best to get ahead of the dreaded “summer slide.”
The phenomenon is basically the loss of achievement gains made during the prior academic year, exhibited through lower proficiency once students return to class in the fall. In some cases, it can take as long as two months for out-of-practice students in the skills of math and literacy to recover what was lost in that time away from the classroom.
“It’s a real thing,” said district superintendent Heidi Pace. “We’ve known it all along anecdotally because we see it, but there’s a lot of research that backs it up. It’s a problem and a concern for all educators everywhere.”
She compares it to a soccer player who doesn’t kick a ball for an extended period of time but believes he or she can pick their previous skill level back up right away. It’s just rarely the case.
“Reading and math are skills that you have to practice on a regular basis,” she said. “So it’s the same idea.”
“With cyber safety and social media,” Madsen said, “technology is changing so fast that it’s a lot of times parents don’t even know half of the apps and technology that their kids are using.”Matt Madsen program manager for FIRC
In response in order to help prevent this skill degradation, the district participates in various summer activities, such as sending elementary students home with books for the extended break, opening the school libraries to sponsor book exchanges among students and partnering with the local libraries, too. The district also works with the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, or FIRC, and together recently hosted an event focused on summer opportunities for students and families via their ongoing “Dialogue Over Dinner” series.
The overall goal of these family-first, dialogue events is to present sometimes difficult subject matter, so parents better understand how to approach their children about them, explained Matt Madsen, program manager for FIRC. Usually, a panel of local experts and professionals is on hand to engage families and lend advice.
“Our focus is on healthy families, and through strong families you get a strong community,” he said of FIRC. “So what we try to do is really look at what sort of issues are relevant and kind of hot topics in the community, and we just want to try to provide a forum and bring together a discussion around those.”
During “Dialogue” events this school year, topics included suicide prevention, digital safety amid an ever-evolving social media landscape and also marijuana use. Perhaps not the most comfortable subjects for parents to address, the idea is offer a chance and lend a hand in helping them do so, with the necessary resources for support.
“With cyber safety and social media,” Madsen said, “technology is changing so fast that it’s a lot of times parents don’t even know half of the apps and technology that their kids are using, so it’s a great opportunity for that. With the legalization (of marijuana), it’s always kind of a topic that parents want to know how to be able to talk to their kids about it.”
FRONT AND CENTER
The matter of losing skills gained while in session at school may be of the softer variety, but neither the school district nor FIRC take it lightly. With the district having already hosted a youth summer activities fair in March with an emphasis on children under 11 years old, the focus of the “Dialogue” event this past Thursday was on middle- and high-school-aged students while serving up a meal.
Study after study shows lower scores on standardized tests following summer vacation than on the same exams before students left for break. Research proves the diminished results are especially apparent within lower-income families.
“It’s typically because of unequal access to summer opportunities,” said Pace. “We (want) to help student keep their skill level up, and, when they come in, we’re not going backwards before we can go forward; we can just go forward.”
To ramp up those available options for parents and their children, FIRC brought in community organizations offering a diverse set of activities this summer to keep kids — and their minds — occupied and active. Those included such groups as the Silverthorne Recreation Center, Keystone Science School and Colorado Learning Connections, all with their own summer programming.
Still, more agencies were on hand. Colorado Mountain College (CMC) will host a unique chance for students age 11 through 14 to spend their first week out of school, at their Breckenridge campus. From June 6-10, space exists for 15 students to participate in a media and technology camp.
“The Summer Technology Institute is all about giving kids a voice through technology,” said CMC photography instructor Matt Lit. With the intensive, one-week and team-based format, attendees naturally find their way into various media to contribute to the final project presented to the public at the end of the week.
As of Thursday evening, six slots remained open for the CMC camp, which teaches participants such skills as photography, video, website building and graphic design work. The week-long clinic costs $495 and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. For more information or to sign up, visit:www.summertechnologyinstitute.com.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
For those perhaps less inclined to enroll in additional class during the break, there are ample chances to get involved, too. The Mountain Mentors program was in attendance Thursday as well to share with families the availability of its recently expanded Teen Center in Frisco.
The center, open after school Monday through Thursday and located in the lower level of the County Commons, will shift to summer hours on Monday, June 6, 1-4 p.m., also Monday through Thursday. All Summit County teens, ages 12 to 18, are invited to drop in whenever they would like, free of charge. There, they can enjoy a safe environment with peers and learn about volunteer opportunities and other community events in which to be involved.
“Kids don’t have as much going on,” said Shawna Gogolen, Mountain Mentors supervisor of the summer. “They were maybe too young for a job or out of sports. That’s when we sign kids up regularly, so that’s what we’re hoping for again.”
Summit County Library also makes it easy to go at your own pace. The community staple has put together a sports-themed summer reading program this year, telling youths, “On your mark … Get set … Read!” and teens to “Get in the Game: Read.”
The teen summer reading program at each of the library’s three locations in Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne, starts Saturday, June 4. For every eight hours read, participants get a free book, and there will be a grand-prize drawing at the end for a gift basket valued at $200.
The children’s programs gets going just a few days later, on Tuesday, June 7. Prizes and other goodies to encourage participants to read will also be handed out. And in conjunction with the youth program, for the first time, the library will host an adult reading program — “Exercise Your Mind” — to get everyone in the family involved.
“One of the best ways to encourage kids to read is for them to see their parents and other grown-ups around them,” said Monica Owens, teen and adult programmer at the South Branch in Breckenridge.
The library also seeks teen volunteers at each branch to assist with to help with the additional youth events going on throughout the summer. For more information on that or the summer reading programs, visits: www.summitcountylibraries.org.
As “Dialogue” attendees saw this past Thursday, those are just a handful of the available options throughout the county for students this summer. With a little investigation, there’s something for everyone, but both Summit School District and FIRC encourage families to get their children signed up for at least one to avoid the summer slide.
“The summer is when parents are busy working,” said Madsen, “and they (should) make sure that their kids have healthy outlets and opportunities during that time.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

After two terms as mayor of Breckenridge, Warner signs off

#Breckenridge Colorado.
Courtesy of the town of Breckenridge

Summit Daily News Link


Eight years as mayor of the Kingdom go by quickly; John Warner can attest. The longtime Summit County resident handed over the helm to Eric Mamula on Tuesday after serving two consecutive terms leading the town.
Warner has guided Breckenridge through periods of growth and uncertainty since moving to Summit to start his own dental practice in 1980. Originally from Connecticut, he moved to Denver, where he first fell in love with the mountains.
Warner graduated Thomas Jefferson High School in 1969. Then, he fell in love again. He and his wife, Carre, went on their first date in Breckenridge, where they spent the morning skiing and saw “some Elke Sommer movie” at the old Peak 8 Theater. A few years later, they married in 1972.
After graduating from dental school at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1979, John and Carre Warner searched for a new place to set their roots. They looked west due to a school policy that would require Warner to pay full tuition unless he left the “urban strip” of Colorado from Fort Collins to Pueblo. Eventually, the two settled on Breckenridge, where Warner has kept the same office since 1980.
“It’s been a great place to start a dental practice,” he said. “I started out with just one dental chair; now I have five. I started with just one employee, and now I have 10.”
“This was a big mountain for me to climb. It’s been a privilege.”John WarnerFormer mayor of Breckenridge
In the meantime, Carre Warner started her own interior design business, which she maintains to this day.
Since then, Warner has witnessed Breckenridge’s explosive growth, fueled by the ski area, snowmaking and sales taxes.
“All of this came together… It was kind of like the perfect storm,” Warner said. “We started seeing these amenities pop up because the town was doing well from the sales tax standpoint and the real estate tax standpoint.”
For Warner, an avid mountaineer, the “perfect storm” can hold a positive connotation. In past adventures, he has summited Denali and traversed the Alps. With the recent spring snow, he took the opportunity to skin up one of the surrounding mountains for a few fresh powder turns. One of the founders of the Summit Huts Association and a seven-year member of the Summit County Rescue Group, Warner used the mountains as a metaphor in his final address before town council.
“I’ve climbed a bunch of mountains in my life and I love doing that. When I start a climb, I would always like to be better friends, better acquainted going down than when I go up,” he said. “This was a big mountain for me to climb. It’s been a privilege.”
CALM IN THE STORM
Despite the many complicated issues faced by the last few councils, Warner has taken each one head-on with a calm assuredness and balanced approach.
“As a guy who has sat with John for six years on council, he is truly a gentleman,” Breckenridge councilman Mark Burke said. “He is truly a consensus builder.”
Warner attributed this trick to his previous years on council, where he learned working with three previous mayors: Steve West, Sam Mamula and Ernie Blake.
“I learned a lot from the styles of those three different mayors. Part of it was watching (them) beforehand and applying my own personality to the process,” he said. “You can see I’m usually pretty calm, not too excitable. I felt it important to let everybody be heard.”
Warner served on town council from 1998 until 2002, and ended up running for mayor in 2006 after a few councilmembers persuaded him to throw his hat in the ring.
“It certainly wasn’t on my radar screen,” Warner said. “But no one else wanted to run.”
During his first term, town council took on the rising cost of childcare, helping raise teacher wages and pay off mortgages for local childcare facilities.
“We did wonderful things in the childcare community. Then, we began to embrace workforce housing and that’s going on still,” he said.
Warner has observed a shift in the town since his early days with council, with a growing emphasis on workforce housing and transportation as Breckenridge continues to expand.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword. We’ve seen tremendous growth in our visitor numbers. It allows a small community like Breckenridge to offer a tremendous array of amenities, but then there’s the flipside of congestion,” Warner said. “People are getting their arms around the idea that we need workforce housing. Along with that goes daycare for our young children.”
One of the most contentious issues Warner faced during his first term was an ordinance that narrowly passed council, mandating residents create defensible space around their homes. Passed before some of Colorado’s largest wildland fires hit the Front Range, the ordinance met some resistance from the community and was made voluntary in 2009.
“The criticism came fast and hard,” Warner said. “I still think recommending and even mandating defensible space was the right thing to do. But the people spoke and we listened.”
BRAVE NEW WORLD
These issues may yet be less contentious than those faced by the most recent council, which met for the last time on March 22. Warner was elected as the incumbent without challenge in 2012, and two years later, worked to navigate the new world of retail marijuana.
In a controversial decision, council moved to relocate dispensaries to Airport Road in early 2015.
“It was difficult trying to understand the impacts of retail marijuana sales in downtown versus on Airport Road,” Warner said. “The town was pretty polarized on that issue. … But we came to a better place in that discussion and it took time.”
In addition to several affordable housing projects, during this term the town established the lift-ticket tax, voted in through a ballot measure to create sustainable transportation funding.
“I think our council laid the groundwork with our lift ticket tax Vail Resorts has agreed to,” Warner said. “Affordable housing is still on the table. I think we need to start thinking about for-sale or ownership workforce housing as well.”
Warner is also proud of the work council has done to further Breckenridge’s sustainability efforts, including creating recycling facilities, ordering hybrid vehicles and other creative solutions. But behind one of the town’s most recent initiatives, to reduce disposable plastic bag use, Warner said the key was to “listen to the kids,” referring to a group of elementary students who suggested the idea.
“They were the ones that got us into space of reducing the number of disposable bags,” Warner said. “I think they would also like us to reduce the number of plastic water bottles in the community. They’re keen observers.”
Ultimately, Warner is optimistic about Breckenridge’s future, noting the newly-elected council’s experience is unmatched, with each councilmember holding at least two years of town council experience under their belt.
“I think the town will be in good hands moving forward,” he said. “I think Eric will be a terrific mayor. I have good feelings about them.”
Reflecting back on the past four years, councilmembers Elisabeth Lawrence and Erin Gigliello noted the council’s successes in the midst of many challenging decisions.
“I think this has been a really good group. We faced two of the largest issues any council has ever faced,” Lawrence said. “We’re all still friends and that’s what this is all about.”
“I think these four people have really improved lives of our community members and neighbors — what could be better than that?” Gigliello added.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Breckenridge moves ahead with Denison Placer affordable housing project

#Breckenridge Colorado.
Courtesy of the town of Breckenridge

Summit Daily News Link


In the first step toward funding a planned affordable housing project, town council approved the transfer of land to the Breckenridge Housing Authority in a first reading on Tuesday. The proposed project, known as Denison Placer, would bring 66 income-restricted rental units across from Colorado Mountain College.
With the June 1 due date for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) approaching quickly, Breckenridge town planner Laurie Best said staff would request council make the ordinance effective immediately after the second reading.
“We want to leave it as a two-reading process,” she said. “We will transfer ownership of the LIHTC property from the town of Breckenridge to the housing authority.”
With LIHTC projects, if there is an ownership interest by a housing authority, then the project is a much more competitive candidate for the tax credit. The town is currently pursuing 9-percent tax credits to cover $12 to $13 million of project costs.
The Breckenridge Housing Authority was formed to satisfy tax credit financing requirements for the Pinewood II, another income-restricted apartment rental that received LIHTC funding.
“It (LIHTC funding) will come in very useful for this project. We will be more competitive if the parcel is owned by a nonprofit.”Peter GrosshueschCommunity Development director
“It will come in very useful for this project,” Community Development director Peter Grosshuesch said. “We will be more competitive if the parcel is owned by a nonprofit.”
The 5.5-acre segment is split into two phases, both of which will include income-restricted housing. The first parcel, of about one acre and 30 units, will break ground this summer. Groundwork will also start on the other parcel, though the larger site will begin after the town hears back in regards to LIHTC funding.
“One will be subject to tax credit rules for occupancy, and the other one we’ll set ourselves,” he said.
The Denison Placer subdivision will include two- and three-bedroom apartments, with Area Median Income (AMI) restrictions set at 40 to 60 percent. The project is a segment of Breckenridge’s Block 11 Master Plan, a 254-acre site north of Upper Blue Elementary that is meant to host a neighborhood of 180 to 350 units adjacent to the McCain Property. The plan, which was developed in 2007, will see a few tweaks, but Grosshuesch said the street plan and architecture would be consistent with the Block 11 Master Plan.
Grosshuesch said when work begins this summer, that parcel of land will be prepared with grading and utility work.
“It’s all worth it in the end,” he added.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Summit County compromises in complex Keystone land deal

#Keystone Colorado.
Courtesy of Summit County government

Summit Daily News Link


Summit County is in the process of settling a deal to finalize residential development on a piece of property in Keystone more than 20 years in the making.
Summit’s Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing this past Tuesday, April 26 to listen to local developer Tim Crane of Summit Homes Construction — owner of two notable land parcels in Keystone — on changing the zoning regulations for the area. The Keystone PUD — as it’s known, or permitted uses and development — dates back to its adoption in 1995, when it put restrictions on how properties for the unincorporated county land could be built out.
At that time, the parcel in question, known as Brown’s Cabin, was owned by Keystone/Intrawest LLC, and this development partnership agreed to zoning that would allow it to only construct up to 100 units of workforce housing, a child-care center, an information center and a parking lot on the land where a gondola would have also been built. But, as it stands, the 4.35 acres at Brown’s Cabin remains a vacant lot.
This is where it gets complicated.
Keystone/Intrawest LLC dissolved in late-2003, and the property was sold to Tom Petters, CEO of the Minnesota-based investment firm Petters Group Worldwide. In 2008, Petters was charged with and subsequently found guilty of business fraud stemming from a Ponzi scheme estimated at more than $3 billion. Today, he sits in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas where he’ll be serving his sentence for another 40-plus years.
Minnwest Bank Metro, which loaned Petters the money to buy Brown’s Cabin in 2007 (and, in 2006, also loaned him $9.1 million for an adjacent Keystone property called The Alders), re-acquired the property and resold it to another bank. A developer calling itself Magni Keystone LLC was then under contract for the purchase of Brown’s Cabin for $1.3 million — the same price Petters originally paid — contingent on obtaining a rezone within the Keystone PUD from the county to build 56 market-rate units there. When the county did not consent to change the 100 workforce housing restriction, Magni sued the county in March 2015. For more on that, check out this explainer.
In the interim, along comes Crane, who owns a number of other LLCs in the county and then buys Brown’s Cabin from that second bank for $1.05 million in April 2015, therefore dismissing Magni’s lawsuit. Crane, under yet another LLC, purchased The Alders from Minnwest — a company he had a development relationship with and was already developing town homes at that site starting in 2012 — for $5.85 million in September 2015. And, today in meetings, Commissioner Thomas Davidson regularly quips his thanks to Crane for not suing the county.
Crane continues to develop at The Alders. At present, 14 town homes have been built, with another four in the works on the 15.87-acre parcel originally zoned under the Keystone PUD for up to 303 market-rate units and 7,800-square-feet of commercial space.
Now, according to the PUD, as any developer builds homes in Keystone, they kick into effect a workforce-housing requirement, which has a generation rate of a fraction of a unit per home produced. Crane has no intention of building 303 homes, but rather a much lower density of just 89 total (so 75 total more to go) at The Alders. Because that property is not zoned for workforce housing, he’ll have to fulfill that requirement on other land.
Enter Brown’s Cabin.
His goal is to build 33 market-rate homes there — but the PUD only provides for workforce housing, of which he also has to build because of the construction at The Alders. So Crane has come to the county, initially doing so in November, to help amend the PUD and request this upzone.
The county, in its own interests and facing a continued workforce housing crisis, does not want to lose the opportunity at those potential units on Brown’s, although it does not own that land. The parties, in turn, have come together to find a way all involved can locate middle ground.
At the Tuesday meeting, Crane pointed out that times have changed, and the PUD as it’s written, particularly at Brown’s Cabin, “no longer reflects the current market demands or development trends.” And, as the builder of myriad developments throughout Summit County — including Pinewood Village 2 in Breckenridge and of the recently announced 15 deed-restricted, workforce homes at Copper Mountain Resort called Copper Point Townhomes — he has some knowledge on the subject.
As part of the possible agreement with the county on Brown’s, Crane would first build six, two-bedroom town homes at an area median income (AMI) rate to be determined, but from the county’s hope a reasonable price so it remains affordable, at that parcel. Crane said Tuesday he’d sweeten the pot further.
Those hypothetical workforce properties that would no longer be built at Brown’s would then go into a “density bank” that would be donated to the county and of a valuation to be determined — think of them as credits that can be spent later on — to be spread out elsewhere. So, he’s also agreed to the initial framework of an “open-book project,” fronting all the cost on a piece of county-owned property at Dillon Valley (or other location), to build as many as 19 units — 38 total beds — of workforce housing, potentially at a loss.
Critics may argue that the county losing out on as many as 100 workforce units — what would undoubtedly have to be dorm-style living to fit that many places to live on that amount of space — at Brown’s, per the PUD, is a tough pill to swallow. Davidson, as well as Commissioners Dan Gibbs and Karn Stiegelmeier made just this argument to Crane back in November, but the chance at some real properties at all — a total of 50 beds and built sooner than later — is a significant reward meriting the agreement. Following earlier and unanimous Snake River Planning Commissioner concurrence, the Board of County Commissioners intimated this at Tuesday’s meeting, but are not at this time able to comment further because the parameters have yet to be ironed out and a deal struck.
Don Reimer, the director of the Summit County Planning Department and one of the leader staffers who does such research, however, is not under such constraints,and agrees with the logic.
“Getting six town homes with a total of 12 beds and a definite commitment to build at least 19 more units, another 38 beds — a definite commitment,” he said, “there’s a lot of value in getting that. The county is certainly benefiting to get some housing built now.”
Brown’s Cabin has taken two decades. That’s included umpteen interruptions, a lawsuit and land changing hands a number of times, but it seems the county is just weeks away from finally moving forward with workforce housing at a location in Keystone where these countless pitfalls have before prevented it from coming to fruition.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Breckenridge transportation talks emphasize walking over parking

#Breckenridge Colorado.
Courtesy of Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates

Summit Daily News Link


While shoulder season brings a welcome respite from the hordes of skier traffic, a group of experts is seeking solutions for Breckenridge’s perennial parking woes. After an initial meeting in February, strategists with Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates and DTJ Design polled Breckenridge residents on their parking and transit priorities.
Both of Monday’s meetings brought a strong turnout, with attendees drawing up unexpected conclusions about the best course of action. For example, the majority of Breckenridge residents would prioritize walking, biking and public transit over vehicle traffic to reduce congestion. Surprisingly, they also supported the conversion of free lots to paid parking.
“I think it was just a reflection of an invested community. It was kind of refreshing to have that conversation,” DTJ Design president Bill Campie said. “It’s a little bit daunting to start and say, ‘How are we going to improve what we consider the model?’”
The group pared down the process to three major goals: creating a better guest experience, reducing traffic congestion (especially on Park Avenue) and increasing access to downtown businesses.
“We’ve decided Park is really the linchpin,” he added. “As soon as you can’t access Park, everything else starts to fall apart.”
According to an informal survey from Monday’s meeting, about 80 percent of Breckenridge residents would prioritize biking, walking and transit improvements over traffic.
“We had charts and charts of specific comments,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, principal and director of Strategy for Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates. “The interesting pattern to me is that they were very specific and very detailed, and there’s a recognition that the one giant project isn’t the thing the town should invest its resources in.”
For Park Avenue, he suggested bringing in a series of tight roundabouts that would slow down traffic enough to make it easier for pedestrians to cross.
Campie added that although there are crosswalks on Park Avenue, they are so often buried in snow that they do little to slow traffic or encourage pedestrians to cross.
“Right now, the problem with Park is either traffic is at a dead stop or going 30-35 mph,” Tumlin said. “We want to make the traffic steady but slow.”
Another innovative idea was to extend the current gondola to parking lots further outside of town, near Colorado Mountain College, for example, giving pedestrians an alternative means of transportation without clogging the streets downtown.
“They’re really great people movers,” Campie said, adding that stops near the Rec Center and other hubs might be a possibility.
“You can quickly get people into the heart of town and right up to the top of the mountain,” Tumlin added. “It’s surprisingly being used in a lot of places because of the flexibility of the system.”
LESS LOTS, MORE WALKS
Over the past few months of discussions, plans have moved away from creating a large parking structure in Breckenridge’s F-Lot and moved toward managing demand before expanding the town’s parking capacity.
“A lot of folks realizing that managing demand was a prerequisite before adding supply,” Tumlin said. “Folks were super interested in more parking at the edges of town and not so much at the center of town. People were interested in affordable housing and open space in the center of town.”
While building a large lot might seem like a simple solution, Tumlin explained that it was not only more expensive, but also a net increase in parking spaces downtown will lead to more traffic and, therefore, more congestion.
“People don’t like parking in parking structures, and they will avoid it if they possibly can,” he said. “They are always going to go to the most convenient space.”
According to him, it all circles back to the question at the heart of the issue: If the question is where to put parking downtown, “the answer is absolutely F-Lot,” Tumlin said.
However, if the question is how to best address congestion, improve downtown access and quality of life, the answer becomes a bit more complicated.
“Then the answer is not, I think, the parking structure on F-Lot, but rather spending that money in a more sophisticated and a more balanced way,” he said. “You shouldn’t just do one thing. You need to do a whole package of things that works together.”
Overwhelmingly, poll results supported constructing a parking structure outside of the town core. Tumlin pointed to the town’s solution with Ski Hill Road as an example of success, by moving the parking lots off the hill and connecting to the ski resort with a gondola.
“You can apply in a somewhat more complex matter that exact same package of solutions to address the traffic congestion problem on Park and Main,” he said.
When it came to finding a solution that would support both locals and tourists, Tumlin was relatively optimistic.
“You don’t have to pit them against each other. You can create a solution that benefits everyone,” he said. “I don’t think you have to make that choice, and that is an extraordinary advantage.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Fest leaves Vail for Breckenridge

#Breckenridge Colorado.
Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center | Special to the Daily

Summit Daily News Link


After 16 years of craft beer weekends in Vail, the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival on Tuesday announced the 2017 event would move from its seven-year home at the Vail Cascade to Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center in Breckenridge.
“Vail Cascade was purchased by new owners in December, and the new ownership is investing $35 million-plus dollars in a full remodel and rebranding of the resort,” said Big Beers event coordinator Laura Lodge. “The rebranding will put both the lodging and the conference space out of reach for our event financially.”
An exhaustive search of alternate locations to host the event was completed at the end of March, determining Breckenridge as the optimal place to relocate based upon a variety of factors, Lodge said.
“I think the enthusiasm and support that was offered both by Beaver Run and the Breckenridge Tourism Office, paired with the operational feasibility of relocating the entire event in a way that’s consistent with our previous experiences, was what sealed the deal,” Lodge said.
CONDUCTING THE SEARCH


Knowing that the festival would need to find a new home, organizers launched the search immediately following this year’s event, beginning with a survey that was sent out to all 2016 Big Beers participants in January asking what they were willing to see change in order to continue the festival.
“We very definitely considered the feedback we were given from that post-event survey in considering what was important to transition,” Lodge said. “If nobody would have come if we couldn’t have it in Vail, that would have been the end of Big Beers. The feedback from the survey was ‘where you go, we will follow,’ which was awesome.”
Step 1 was determining what the Big Beers brand had become throughout the past 16 years, narrowing down the individual elements that defined the festival weekend and deciding what would carry forward.
“Some of the components that became evident in that process were the Rocky Mountain skiing destination, a host resort that encompasses a large percentage of the events for the weekend and the capacity to continue with both the educational seminars and Commercial Tasting as key elements of the weekend,” Lodge said.
The first goal was to stay in Vail, and Lodge said she worked with the town of Vail’s Commission on Special Events, Vail Resorts and many different hotels and resorts, both in Vail and Lionshead villages, attempting to find a good fit. Ultimately, the cost of event space and lodging rates eliminated Vail as an option.
“The room rates within Vail and Lionshead were not accessible for the demographics of our group,” Lodge said. “Effectively, we couldn’t find anything in Vail less than $500 a night for a location that would work as a host resort.”
Lodge then looked at Beaver Creek as the next potential option to keep Big Beers in the Vail Valley, but attempts to keep the festival local struck out.
LANDING IN SUMMIT
Broadening the search, destinations such as Steamboat Springs and Aspen were eliminated because the long distance from Denver International Airport would make Big Beers inaccessible for many of the brewers and beer fans that travel from other states to attend. With Winter Park off the list due to a lack of conference space, Big Beers organizers landed on Summit County as the most logical choice.
Lodge said the Keystone Conference Center wouldn’t provide as consolidated of an experience for the festival, requiring shuttles to move amongst the lodging, conference and ski areas, and Copper Mountain Resort proved not to be financially workable. The final nail in both coffins: Neither Keystone nor Copper was able to offer the January weekend calendar dates traditionally occupied by Big Beers.
Breckenridge proved to be attractive, not only because of the support from Beaver Run and the Breckenridge Tourism Office, but also due to the town’s 275-plus shops, bars and restaurants and the recently renovated downtown Arts District. Collectively, these businesses and venues offered a variety of ways to integrate peripheral festival events, such as pairing dinners and tap takeovers, within the Breckenridge community.
“We have over 100 different breweries and importers that want to have a marketing and promoting presence during Big Beers, and the sheer volume of retail, liquor stores, bars and restaurants has already lent itself well to that,” Lodge said. “Keystone and Copper have significantly smaller opportunities to activate within the community, which would have been problematic for the sheer number of breweries that want to do something.”
The 17th annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival will land at Beaver Run Jan. 5-7, 2017. Organizers will soon launch a new website and revisit the weekend schedule to incorporate new activation options within the town of Breckenridge.
“We really appreciate the amazing support that we have been given in Vail and look forward to creating a new chapter of Big Beers working with the locals and business owners in Breck,” Lodge said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.