For now, local resorts are on hold before Loveland announces an opening day and Keystone’s lifts start spinning on Nov. 4. Here’s a look at what to expect from terrain, chairlifts, base amenities and more this November.
LOVELAND SKI AREA | EARLY NOVEMBER
Mother Nature hasn’t been kind to Loveland. She hasn’t been kind to anyone in the local ski industry, but the recent rash of warm and sunny days has put a big damper on the ski area’s snowmaking operations. After the first true snowfall on Oct. 19, officials expected to open sometime this week with at least another day or two of natural snowfall.
Instead, officials confirmed on Tuesday that the ski area won’t open until the first week in November. But it’ll be worth the wait: opening day brings top-to-bottom service on Lift 1. That means more than a mile of skiing (and 1,000 vertical feet!) on Catwalk, Mambo and Home Run, with a base of at least 18 inches from tree to tree.
Keep an eye on the Loveland conditions website for more info on conditions and snowfall. Chances are the ski area won’t announce its opening date until one or two days before, marketing director John Sellers said.
KEYSTONE RESORT | NOV. 4
Keystone is taking a page from the once-in-a-century World Series matchup and throwing skiers a curveball. For the past decade or so, opening day has looked the same: snowmaking on the easternmost Spring Dipper trail, with lift access from the River Run Gondola and Montezuma Express.
This season on Nov. 4, snowmakers will instead open the west side of the mountain — Schoolmarm and Silver Spoon — with lift access on the same chairs, beginning at 9 a.m. The hope is to give early-season skiers more variety (aka gentler slopes) before storms boost snowpack on the manmade snow, according to the resort.
The new plan also changes early-season terrain park access. Rather than build a temporary park under the Ranger Lift, the park crew will open a small batch of rails on the stretch between Silver Spoon and the entrance to A51 terrain park. This should help park crew get the full-sized park up and running earlier, officials said.
The day continues with apres music, beer specials and giveaways at Endo’s in Center Village from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., followed by the Welcome Home Party at Jack’s Bar and Grill at 1:30 p.m.
The party carries over to Nov. 12 with a cornhole tournament, music and more at Copper Apres from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Prizes for the tourney include Copper four packs, gift cards and Under Armour gear. Woodward Copper finishes the day with the Woodward Barn Bash from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., featuring free (yes, free) two-hour intro session, live music, pro demos and hip-hop from Denver’s Down2Funk at 5:30 p.m. The new Union Bindings and Videograss videos premiere for free at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday wraps things up with (what else?) a Broncos Watch Party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Jack’s Bar and Endo’s. Both have drink and food specials, giveaways and more.
Those bare slopes at Peak 8 and Peak 9 mean the snowmaking crew hasn’t confirmed terrain or chairlifts for opening day, but chances are crowds will load Colorado Superchair at Peak 8, with riding on Springmeier, Powerline and maybe Four O’Clock to Lower Four O’Clock into town — those runs are the standards for opening day. Still no word on Park Lane or the Freeway jumps and superpipe, but the bones of all three are starting to take form.
The Silverthorne Town Council will meet on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. The council will do a first reading on an ordinance allowing grocery and drugstores to have a liquor license. They will also do a first reading of the 2017 budget for Silverthorne.
The council had the retreat meeting for the budget back in July. The town planned the budgets for 2017 and 2018, but will only approve the one for next year.
Silverthorne has been conservative when planning the budget.
They budgeted a 2 percent sales tax increase for 2017, despite a 7.6 percent average increase in sales tax revenue for the past three years.
The council meeting will include an executive session discussing Smith Ranch.
On Oct. 22, 1947 Bill Thomas Jr. wrote about a snowy day that kept him inside for most of the day.
Fast forward to Oct. 22, 2016 and the people attending the walking tour of Bill’s Ranch couldn’t have asked for sunnier weather.
The Frisco Historic Museum and Park organizes tours of the land granted to the Thomas family in 1910, where the family began to operate a dairy ranch.
A NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY
In 1930, the town of Frisco only had 18 people and the Thomas family created a plan to bring people to the town by offering free land: The first 10 people to respond to an open call for residents could take some of the 147.5 acres given to Bill’s mother, Jane Thomas, in a Deed of Trust.
The process was slow, but eventually people began to respond and build cabins — some of the cabins still stand today and are part of the walking tour.
But many of the historic cabins that were built were taken down. Some of the structures were moved to the historic park in Frisco, others were repurposed or used in construction by the new property owners.
Jana Miller, the tour’s guide and coordinator for the museum, said that the organization largely depends on community members to preserve the cabins.
“You are really dependant upon the good faith of the people who live here and own the places,” she said.
She added that the cabins are not legally considered historic landmarks. The town has to work with the county to get that designation and the rules surrounding which buildings can be protected makes the issue very complicated.
Miller owns the Maddy Cabin, which was the first stop on the tour. For her, the purchase meant saving a piece of history, something that gave her a leg up with the cabin’s previous owners.
Other stops on the tour have similar stories. The Fiester property was bought by a couple that wanted to preserve it. The cabin was referred to as “Look-up Lodge” because of the mountain views behind it.
When Jane Thomas and her husband Bill first came to Frisco in the late 1800s they purchased the Leyner House Hotel. Bill Thomas Sr. died in 1900, but Jane Thomas continued to run the hotel until 1931. The structure was later dismantled and moved to the ranch site, where Ben Little, who plays Bill Thomas for a brief section of the tour, helped reconstruct the building and created an addition. He and his brother, Jim Little, have been working to help save other historic cabins that were part of the ranch, including the Olson Cabin, which is also on his property.
Miller said that one of the biggest problems in preserving the cabins is that there is no way to track when they go for sale. While some property owners — including some owners from the families that originally built the cabins — have kept the original structures in good condition, new owners may not do the same.
Miller said that one family has been working with the museum to move the cabin off their property before they sell the land it’s on. The cabin will move to the park in Frisco along with the original ranch house and the Niemoth Cabin, which were previously moved to the park — the ranch house was moved in the ’80s and the Niemoth Cabin was moved in 1995.
“If we move the buildings there, they’re at least protected,” Miller said.
One of the last stops on the tour is the Posey Cabin. Margaret Posey’s father bought the land from Bill Thomas in the late ’40s. Because the community knows Posey cares about the ranch’s history, she has inherited various pieces such as cattle brands, a water wheel, Bill Thomas Sr.’s mother’s Bible and even Bill Thomas Jr.’s diary. She has kept the wood-burning stove originally put in the cabin and still cooks on it.
The Breckenridge Town Council will have a special retreat meeting on Oct. 25 to go over the proposed budget for 2017. The meeting will start at noon in the Town Hall Auditorium and is open to the public.
The budget estimates a rise in both revenue and expenditures for the town. Part of the rise in revenue is because the budget currently includes money coming in from ballot measure 5A, which will change depending on the voter outcome in November. The proposed budget was sent out to email subscribers by the town earlier this week.
The finalized budget will be brought forth as a resolution in the Nov. 22 town council meeting.
The council’s regularly scheduled meeting will begin after the retreat at 7 p.m.
The agendas and packets for both the budget and regular meetings can be found on the town of Breckenridge’s website.
After the citizen’s comment section of the regular meeting, the council will discuss the Police Department Lifesaving Award. The council will also do a second reading on municipal offenses concerning marijuana.
The master plan was originally scheduled for completion by the end of September, following the county’s last open house event on Sept. 7. County government chose to delay that release though, after the town of Frisco decided to host its own citizen meeting on Sept. 28 to address potential concerns from the housing expansion. The idea was to include those comments into the ultimate design recommendations.
Questions about added traffic congestion, trail connectivity, as well as potential water and sanitation impacts, were part of those discussions in Frisco. Early conversations between the county and the town located just south of the 45-acre parcel suggested plenty of capacity to service both the eventual development on top of current and future needs. But more questions have arisen as the project’s parameters have become clearer.
“There are some infrastructural issues there that do need to be resolved,” Don Reimer, Summit County planning director, explained to the county commissioners. “I think it’s a positive conversation. I don’t think that anybody’s saying we can’t do this or whatever else. They do want to make sure that they can accommodate all of their existing lands within the county as well.”
Talk of a potential Frisco annexation of the county parcel remains on the back burner at the moment. As town council considers Frisco’s long-term plan, however, which could include some redevelopment ventures — possibly increasing density by converting some single-family dwellings into multi-family units — it will want to ensure the town is prepared and secure.
“They’re just trying to do their due diligence,” said county manager Scott Vargo, “to make sure that they have a comfort level of what their community build-out looks like and then what this project looks like in addition to it.”
Nothing is set in stone at this point regarding gas or power lines, both of which already exist on the property. But preliminary discussions with Xcel Energy have resulted in the county’s understanding they can simply tap into both. Establishment of a regulating station will be necessary for gas, and the intent is to pull the power lines presently overhead underground ahead of any vertical construction.
To keep costs down, the property will ideally tie into both Frisco’s wastewater and drinking water lines, using the Frisco Sanitation District’s mains. The water tank located just east of the former U.S. Forest Service land also makes sense to use, though alternatives will remain available should Frisco eventually decide it doesn’t wish to offer up the essential resource.
Aside from infrastructural logistics, which for now is scheduled for 2017, Reimer confirmed a strategy of phased development once financing is established down the road. The 436 total units for Lake Hill as outlined in the master plan — containing a mixture of ownership between single-family, duplexes and townhomes, in addition to several multi-family complexes — would not be finished for about a decade. The first phase, projected to begin in 2018 with completion in 2022-23, would include 193 units — 21 single-family homes, 37 duplexes and 135 multi-family rentals.
Those targets are still subject to change as the master plan heads toward completion. If, say, the desire for ownership as opposed to rental properties spikes, or the community experiences a market downturn like that of 2009, then the proposal is flexible and can be adjusted.
“The first phase is pretty much set,” said Reimer. “We feel comfortable with what we can fit on the site, the number and breakdown of units, two parking spaces per, and the amount of open space we want to have. But this is a plan and plans do change, even if this is the guideline and roadmap for what we want the project to look like at this moment in time.”
A meeting between county staff and a stakeholder group is scheduled for early November to iron out other details. From there, the county commissioners are planning to meet with the Frisco town council in the middle of November to work together to settle on a final game plan.
“I do like the idea of a joint meeting with the town council to take a look at where we’re at and what do we think that we can in partnership do next,” said Commissioner Thomas Davidson. “We also have to continue to think about and identify other sites, and we have to make sure that we don’t drop the ball. So, lots to do.”
Starting Dec. 1 of this year, Breckenridge will implement paid parking on Main Street.
An hourly rate for the spots has yet to be determined, but Shannon Haynes, assistant town manager of Breckenridge, said that the council will be deciding that point during its budget retreat meeting on Oct. 25.
Some of the construction to put in the new parking stations has already begun. Haynes said that on Oct. 17 crews began the process of pouring concrete to make the base for the new machines.
The town will be replacing all paid parking machines throughout Breckenridge to make sure everything is on the same system. Pay stations in parking lots will be placed earlier so that they can be active by the start of the ski season. The town will also need to remove all of its current parking signage from Main Street before the new fixtures are installed.
Paid parking will be along most of Main Street, as well as Ridge Street, but will skip the South 300 block by the post office, Haynes said. The side streets that have parking spots between Ridge and Main Street will also switch to paid parking. People will need to pay for parking in these spots between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
CHANGE OF HABIT
While spots do not currently have a time limit, Haynes said that the amount people pay for parking increases the longer they stay in the spot.
“We want to discourage people from parking on Main Street to go skiing,” said the Mayor of Breckenridge, Eric Mamula. “It will be more expensive to park on Main Street to ski than it will be to park in the Gondola Lots.”
Mamula wanted to stress that the new paid parking system is not meant to be a revenue generator for the town.
“This is meant to influence behavior, and the town will set the price based on occupancy rates in the area that we have paid parking,” he said.
He added that although the town council is setting a rate at its next meeting, officials will look at it again four to six weeks after the program starts to see if improvements can be made as far as cost or time the spots are available.
GETTING A SECOND OPINION
Haynes worked with a transportation and parking task force for the town to implement strategies in the hopes of alleviating congestion. Paid parking, as well as other recent improvements to transit, are all recommendations from a study that was done by traffic consultant firm NelsonNygaard.
The firm was originally hired after a proposal in the summer of 2015 from the town to build a parking garage at the F Lot. Many members of the community voiced concerns about the garage, particularly that it would not help with traffic congestion. Once hired, NelsonNygaard’s study confirmed this.
The town has also made some accommodations for employees working in Breckenridge, such as improvements to public transit. The Ice Rink Lot will be free for anyone to park in during the day. The Satellite Lot will have 300 spaces designated for employee and overnight parking. Employees will need to get a free permit from the town to use the spaces. There will be no change in several of the lots in town that have been paid parking during the day, but free after 3 p.m.
“(This) also provides this opportunity for employees who work at night to have a place that is close to town that they can walk to and feel safe,” Haynes said.
Kim Dykstra, director of communications for the town, said that there will be a merchant validation program put into place and the town will work with business owners on how to use it.
PARKING GARAGE CONFLICT
While a parking garage has not been entirely taken off the town’s wish list, it has dropped on the list of priorities. This caused a rift between the town and Breckenridge Ski Resort, whose COO, John Buhler, wrote a scathing letter to the Daily on Sept. 25 suggesting the town was backing down from its promise to build the garage.
Mamula said that his biggest concern with the parking garage is that it is a costly solution, and one that can’t be adjusted once it’s been put into place. He said he would prefer to work out the all kinks before investing in a garage.
“You build a parking structure in the wrong place, (then) you’ve got a $50 million parking structure in the wrong place and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said.
IMPACT ON LOCALS
Local shop owners in Breckenridge were also wondering about the current status of the parking garage. Charity Mersereau, who has worked at Magical Scraps and Boutique on Main Street for nearly two years, said that while she was originally opting for the garage, she thought paid parking was also a good solution.
“You can’t park in Vail or Aspen or anywhere else for free,” she said.
Michael Jackman, who has owned the Breck Hat Co for more than 20 years, said he was “neutral” about the new paid parking and wondered if it would make a large difference since most of the spots on Main Street already have a three-hour maximum time limit. One of his concerns was whether the new spots would prevent him from being able to park in front of his shop temporarily in order to bring in merchandise.
His employee, Brad Bushey, on the other hand, was worried about the cost for locals and whether or not he would have to park further away from work in order to avoid added spending.
Sam Fredericks, an employee at the Global Candle Gallery, said she just avoids driving to work in general because of the parking issues. She uses public transit instead.
“Parking is annoying already, and I don’t think having (paid parking) will make much difference,” she said.
She added that she hopes the paid parking will help prevent tourists from staying in one spot for long periods of time.
THE FUTURE OF PARKING IN BRECK
Paid parking is just the start of a plan from the town in lessening parking and traffic woes throughout Breckenridge. Haynes said the town will have community meetings before paid parking is implemented to show people how the new machines will work.
There is also an app, PassportParking Mobile Pay, that goes with the machines. The app allows people to pay with their phone, and make adjustments to their parking time slot. It will all be done by inputting the license plate number of the car. Haynes is also working to put together videos to demonstrate the new process. Both Mamula and Haynes said that while the change will be difficult for locals, they are hoping the town can make the transition as easy as possible.
“The paid parking thing, while I know it will be painful, was the single biggest thing that the consultants said, ‘You need to do this, this will make more difference than anything else you can do,’” Mamula said.