Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Widening of Interstate 70

Most of the 40 citizens who attended the most recent "Our Future Summit" panel discussion said they were skeptical of the $4 billion, 20-year plan to add more lanes to I-70.

Instead, many called for some immediate remedies to address chokepoints, while at the same time urging the agency to plan well ahead for a long-term, mass-transit solution.

Summit County and its local towns are part of the 30-member I-70 Central Coalition formed after the environmental impact statement was released. Its goal was to produce a regional political consensus on improvements.

That consensus may be elusive just within Summit County, where some segments of the community are advocating for more lanes, while others press for mass transit and others argue for the do-nothing alternative.

Friday, April 15, 2005

B & B Mines Open Space Purchase

The first of two pieces of the historic B&B Mines open space purchase was completed on Wednesday.

The Breckenridge and Summit County open space programs closed on the Star and Presidents mining claims, paying $700,000 for about 120 acres of land in the Golden Horseshoe area north of Breckenridge.

Thus begins final deal that will put 1,842 total acres of close-in back-country land into the public domain.

The Golden Horseshoe is flanked by the Swan and French Creek drainages. The land hooks-up with National Forest Service property and well-used trails crisscross the boundaries.

The final price tag will total $9 million for the land and up to $2 million for environmental work. The town and the country are splitting the costs 50-50.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Breckenridge Economic Development committee

An Economic Development Committee (EDC) emerged as one of the top recommendations in a report issued yesterday to the Breckenridge Town Council. The recommendation came from the town's Marketing Vision Plan Advisory Committee.

The town council chartered the Advisory Committee last year to determine whether or not Breckenridge is being adequately marketed in this highly competitive environment.

The council was split on it's support. With some members voicing concerns about another layer of decision-making - it could cause even more frustration with existing marketing groups.

The council sent the recommendation to their staff for an analysis.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Breckenridge to Create Cucumber Gulch Nature Center

Despite the new snow in Cucumber Gulch, the first signs of spring are slowly appearing - red winged blackbirds trill in the bare willows, wing patches glittering like rubies among the drab brown branches.

"They're really guardians of the willow groves," said Peg Alig, Breckenridge Nature Series coordinator, going on to describe the sights and sounds of the season's first Breckenridge Nature Series hike in the Gulch.

The town is looking at the possibility of building a nature center as a base for interpretive activities as well as for scientific research in Cucumber Gulch. $145,000 is in this year's budget for planning and design of the new nature center and open space and trails.

It's a wonderful idea and I hope it happens.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Summit Snowpack Still Short

Although a series of soggy spring storms has moved through Colorado's mountains in recent weeks, the snowpack in Summit County is still at about 80 percent of normal, according to Scott Hummer, the Silverthorne-based water watcher for the State Engineer's Office.

Hummer, who tracks stream flows and reservoir levels, said flows have been below their historic averages for this time of year.

Measured at the Highway 9 gauge near the Tiger Run RV Park, between Breckenridge and Frisco, the Blue River has been running below 10 cubic feet per second (cfs) for about a month.

"It's nice to get this late-season snow, but locally, we're not out of the woods yet, as far as the drough situation is concerned," Hummer said. "We need to understand that Denver will again be relying on Dillon Reservoir this summer."

Averaged statewide the picture is better: snowpack levels are higher than they've been in five years, boosted by huge snow totals in the Southwestern part of the state.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Summit Lift "On Hold"

The future of the Breckenridge Ski Resort's proposal to add a new lift and replace an existing one is tangled in U.S. Forest Service red tape.

Recently the Forest Service withdrew its approval for the Summit Lift granted to the ski resort on Jan. 20 by its district ranger in Dillon.

The Forest Service said Rick Newton (the district ranger) did not have sufficient authority to approve a long-term project.

The (new?) final decision will be made by the forest supervisor of the White River National Forest, Mary Beth Gustafson.

Breckenridge Ski Resort spokeswoman Emily Jacob said the company is working with the forest service to resolve the issue. "We are hopeful the project can be completed this summer," Jacob said.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Cucumber Creek Gondola

It looks like the gondola in Breckenridge is only a few years away. The Breckenridge Planning Commission has approved it and Vail Resorts says it is only a question of time before the gondola is built. The "question of time" part seems to mean "as soon as we sell enough Mountain Thunder Lodge properties" we will build the gondola.

I think it is good news. Breckenridge is long overdue for another lift that actually comes right down into town, and the location of this lift would do much to relieve the traffic congestion and skier/rider transportation problems that currently exist.

Let's face it, the two main parking lots in town - the "Miners lot" and the "Tailings lot" while having nice names are nothing more than dirt parking lots (right now they are mud parking lots) and could use massive improvement. The installation of the gondola (the lower, or in-town base of the gondola) will be in one of these lots and I am sure paving will be not far behind. It's time for Breckenridge to "step up to the plate" and offer some of the same amenities that their competitors offer. This lift would go a long way in that direction. Let's hope it gets built soon.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Breckenridge Main Street Makeover

Main Street in Breckenridge will have a different look in the future. The town has reached an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to move Colorado highway 9 from it's present location (Main Street) to Park Avenue. Highway 9 will now officially follow Park Avenue from the north end of town around to the west and rejoin Main Street at the juncture of Park Avenue and Main Street at the southern edge of town. I know it's confusing, but bear with me.

This change in routing gives the town more flexibility in dealing with Main Street closures for special events and more freedom to re-design the street. I do hope it turns out for the better.

A recent series of 4-day meetings in which representatives from Design Workshop of Aspen met with citizens, business owners, town officials and numerous others to determine the biggest concerns surrounding Main Street yielded a consensus: pedestrian safety is the top issue facing Main Street.

The process, called the Downtown Revitalization Project, is designed to make Main Street more pedestrian friendly, integrate its transit systems with the downtown core and link the Riverwalk Center with the Blue River Plaza, Main Street and the Arts District on Ridge Street.

The design team will now compile the data and present it to the town council.

I'm sure we'll see some changes this summer.

Friday, April 01, 2005

2004 Summit County Real Estate Sales Top $1 Billion

Real estate sales in Summit County broke the $1 billion mark in 2004 for the second time in history.

The total dollar volume of $1.1 billion for the year represents a 29 percent increase over 2003, but did not beat the record set in 2000.

In Breckenridge, where the majority of the sales occur, the number of sales was up 35 percent over 2003. Sales volume in December alone nearly doubled, from $65.4 million in 2003 to $129.4 million in 2004.

Average price also increased to $346,578 from $325,312 a year ago.