Saturday, April 29, 2006

Breckenridge Medical Center to Close?

The future of the Breckenridge Medical Center (BMC)has been cast into doubt by Vail Resorts’ decision to send injured skiers and snowboarders elsewhere.

Designated by the state as a trauma center, BMC has operated in its current location at the base of Peak 9 since 1992.

Through a long-term agreement with the ski resort, ski patrollers brought those injured on the mountain directly to BMC or its satellite clinic on Peak 8 for assessment and treatment.

Vail Resorts has opted not to renew this contract, known as the skier transport agreement, with BMC. Instead, the resort has made a deal with Centura Health, the parent company of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, to provide care for its mountain visitors.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Colorado Symphony Orchestra to Play Breckenridge

The National Repertory Orchestra presents the Colorado Symphony Orchestra with music director Jeffery Kahane Friday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. in a special benefit concert for the NRO Education and Community Engagement Program.

The concert coincides with a season celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday and highlights include a Mozart piano concerto performed by pianist and conductor Kahane.

NRO players will also play side-by-side with the orchestra for a portion of the program. In addition to Mozart, repertoire includes pieces by Bernstein and Respighi. A portion of the concert will be conducted by NRO music director Carl Topilow.

The NRO and the CSO have developed a strong partnership in recent years in part of a continuing effort to develop and sustain audience interest in live symphonic music across the state.

For more details about NRO events, visit

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

No Pay Parking for Downtown Breckenridge

Although a recent study warned that new fees in skier parking lots along Park Avenue could force hundreds of vehicles a day into the free parking areas of Breckenridge, town council members recently decided to pull back from an earlier plan to press for paid parking along Main Street.

The report refers to the Breckenridge Ski Area plan to charge for parking in what are currently free lots in the vicinity of the future gondola terminal, a move that will significantly change the parking equation in town.

“The last direction (town staff) had from council was to take it to the community and tell them what the options are,” said spokesperson Kim DiLallo, referring to the long-discussed idea of charging for parking on Main Street.

But with three new council members in place, town planners decided to once again raise the question this month at a retreat.

“We wanted to be sure the council was comfortable with that. Do we want to continue down the path of getting the information out to the community?” DiLallo said.

Mayor Ernie Blake, as well as Councilmembers Rob Millisor and John Warner supported the direction from the previous town council, but Dave Rossi, Jennifer McAtamney, Jeffrey Bergeron and Eric Mamula indicated they weren’t in favor of the concept, reflecting the political shift wrought by the April 4 election, at least on this issue.

So for now, paid parking downtown seems to be on the back burner, if not completely dead.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dillon to Remove Infected Trees

It’s not as drastic as Frisco’s plan to remove at least 9,000 trees from its peninsula, but the town of Dillon will also hire a contractor to weed out the pine beetle infested trees from its recreation area on the Dillon Reservoir this summer.

The town council approved a contract Tuesday with The Tree Musketeers out of Evergreen to cut down 788 infected lodgepole pine trees from its 260-acre Dillon Nature Preserve.

Last year, the town paid to have 393 trees removed from the preserve for the same reason. The preserve is a passive recreation area zoned as open space off Highway 6 between the Summerwood subdivision and Dillon Bay.

Starting May 1, the contractor will fell the trees, lop and scatter the limbs on the forest floor, and remove the trunks from the preserve, said assistant public works director Scott O’Brien.

Eliminating the dying trees from the forest could help rejuvenate the area by increasing space between the remaining trees, thus allowing sunlight through to the forest floor, O’Brien said.

“The trees that are left are going to be healthier and better able to fend of attacks in the future,” O’Brien said.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

EPA Environmental Award for Breckenridge Sanitation

A “remarkable commitment to protecting the Blue River Basin” has garnered an EPA environmental achievement award for the Breckenridge Sanitation District.

EPA regional deputy administrator Eddie Sierra presented the award to district officials in Breckenridge, singling out the district for the “significant and lasting influence” it has had on protecting water quality in the Upper Blue Basin.

During the district’s 40-year life span, numerous initiatives have enhanced the protection of the basin’s water quality. The district owns and operates five wastewater treatment facilities in the Upper Blue River basin and has won numerous environmental awards, including five national and five regional Clean Water Act awards in operation and maintenance.

One example of the initiatives is the construction of the Iowa Hill Water Reclamation plant, which for the first time created a winter stream flow in a segment of the Blue River that had been extensively dredged during the late 1800s. The winter stream flow allowed for the dilution of heavy metals being discharged from the Wellington-Oro mine.

In another example, the District entered into a reclamation agreement with the Climax Mine for the disposal of biosolids on the mine’s contaminated tailings.

EPA Region 8 presents awards in four categories to individuals and groups. Breckenridge’s award recognizes significant achievements in the protection of public health or the environment and in advancing the agency’s strategic goals. Among the criteria is an outstanding contribution to environmental protection through a single action, or by an ongoing action over an appreciable period of time.

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Bike/Pedertrian Path Construction Begins in Frisco

Spring has arrived in Summit County, and in the High Country, that means the start of another construction season.

The town of Frisco plans to take advantage of the disappearance of most of the snow to begin work this week on the 5th Avenue bike and pedestrian pathway. The 5th Avenue project, similar in design to the 8th Avenue path completed in 2005, will include a 10-foot-wide asphalt path separated from the street by a 7-foot-wide green belt and a 3-foot-wide drainage pan.

The plan is for the pathway to extend from the Granite Street alley south to Belford Street along the west side of 5th Avenue. Because of the hilly topography in some places, a separating green belt won't be possible for the entire length of the path. Even in those areas, though, occupants of the path will be shielded somewhat from traffic, Frisco public works director Tim Mack said.

"They'll still be a concrete drainage pan separating pedestrians from the street," he said.

The anticipated cost of the project, which is part of the town's long-term pathway plan, is estimated at around $400,000. At its last meeting, the Frisco Town Council approved a resolution authorizing expenditure of nearly $423,000 from the town's capital budget to cover the cost of construction, including contingencies.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Green Mt. Reservoir Fee Increase Shelved

A U.S. Forest Service plan to increase camping and day use fees for the popular recreation areas around Green Mountain Reservoir has been shelved after a review by top agency officials in Washington, D.C.

Green Mountain Reservoir is located north of the Breckenridge/Frisco/Dillon area.

The fee increase was announced several months ago as part of the first-ever formal management plan for the area, one of the few local recreation sites with a relatively undeveloped feel.

Increased use and abuse of the area over the past few years has resulted in resource damage, including litter and erosion. The increased fees were proposed to address these issues. The new management plan was aimed at creating a safe environment while providing good stewardship for natural resources.

The fees for this summer will remain at $5 per vehicle, per day, for day use or camping, said Ken Waugh, recreation staff officer for the Dillon Ranger District.

The campgrounds and day use facilities at Prairie Point and McDonald Flats are operated under concession, and the fees there will stay at $10 for camping and $7 for day use, Waugh said.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ski Season Winding Down

After a winter with above average snowfall, the epic ski season is beginning to wind down.

Copper Mountain and Keystone resorts both ceased operations for the winter last Sunday, and Breckenridge closes next Sunday.

Arapahoe Basin hasn't yet announced a closing date.

This season handed Copper Mountain its third best snowfall season ever, and was on track to either tie or beat the resort's best-ever season in 1983-1984, when the mountain stayed open into May, said resort spokesperson Carlos Garcia.

The snow was equally as plentiful at Keystone, which had the best February for snowfall in five years, said director of mountain operations Chuck Tolton.

By mid-November, the resort had opened all three of its mountains - Dercum, North Peak and Outback - which occurred earlier in the year than anyone at the resort could recall in the past, Tolton said.

"It has been nothing short of a remarkable season - from start to finish," Tolton said. He highlighted the resort's many events as contributing to its success, beginning with 36 Hours of Keystone in November and ending over the weekend in the A-51 Terrain Park with Superpark 10, one of Snowboarder Magazine's signature events.

Colorado Ski Country USA reported record-breaking skier numbers among its 25 member resorts in the state for the first two quarters of the ski season.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Breckenridge's Historic Past

A town's character - real or perceived - is often a deciding factor for tourists making a decision about where to vacation.

Breckenridge is one town that has "character."

"We have differentiation from other communities," said outgoing town council member Larry Crispell, also a bit of history buff in his own right." (Our history) is the critical differentiation. We should be out shouting it from the roof tops - we are an historic community. We are a real town," he said.

Turning the town's history into dollars is a challenge unique in its own right, though. And town officials are anxious to come up with a specific plan that will leverage the town's rich history into increased tourist traffic.

Gaining a fresh perspective about the town's many historical assets is the first step that the town's taken. They've spent $30,000 to hire two consultants who are charged with analyzing historic sites around town, and then devising a strategy that will lure tourists specifically interested in checking out the history and heritage that makes up the town's back story.

The "heritage master plan," based on input from the two consultants, is expected later this year, after they've taken a hard look at the many disparate but plentiful historic sites and attractions in the area. The heritage master plan will, in theory, pull many of those pieces together, and make it easier for the town to market packages based on Breckenridge's history to inquisitive tourists from around the globe.

"We've been doing (historic preservation and promotion) kind of piecemeal," said Breckenridge town manager Tim Gagen. "Now we felt it was time to figure out what's the best model to move forward with in trying to pull all of those pieces together."

As Crispell explains, the town has taken an active role in the last few years "to acquire, partner, protect, preserve and restore" sites in and around Breckenridge that are worth preserving for their historical value.

In just the past couple of years, the town has made strides in purchasing a number of historic mining properties, most notably the B&B Mine - at the heart of the Golden Horseshoe area set to welcome hikers and bikers to its wild environment in the near future.

Breckenridge has also recently acquired rustic dredge boat properties, and is set to restore and interpret those areas as historic markers as well.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

National Repertory Orchestra 2006

More than 600 musicians, aged 18-28 applied for the National Repertory Orchestra's 2006 season. Among the 88 who made it into the eight-week summer internship in symphony music, some are doing it to stay in shape while their professional orchestra gig is out of session. Some, still in high school, are prepping for a music major in college. Still others are interested in fine-tuning their auditioning skills to land a job.

All of these top musicians, however, have a common interest - the exhaustive experience the NRO has to offer through a demanding schedule of orchestral concerts and rehearsals.

The musicians, which will arrive in Breckenridge in June, are provided housing in various Breckenridge condos and are given $50 gift certificates to City Market once a week. The NRO spends about $8,500 on each student of the program.

With either two rehearsals a day or a rehearsal and a concert along with the seminars, the musicians won't find much extra time on their hands, but are given a few scheduled days off.

Look for the NRO musicians rehearsing at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge starting June 11. The concert season begins June 17. Rehearsals are open the public.

The full schedule and ticket information is available at

National Repertory 2006 Summer Schedule:

All performances take place at the Riverwalk Center in downtown Breckenridge

• June 17: "Nature, Love and Life"

• June 24: "A Musical Passport"

• June 28: "Russian Passions"

• June 30: "Broadway and Beyond"

• July 1: "A Night for Hollywood"

• July 8: Stephan Sanderling, guest conductor

• July 12: Andrew Litton, guest conductor

• July 15: "Art and Music"

• July 19: "Celebrating Mozart's 250th Birthday"

• July 27: "Joint Classical Concert"

• July 28: "Pops Concert"

• July 30: "Showcase of Tomorrow's Stars"

• Aug. 2: JoAnn Falletta, guest conductor

• Aug. 5: Season Finale, "Honoring Heroes"

Friday, April 14, 2006

Breckenridge "Gateway" Development

The latest proposal for a “gateway” development project near the 7-Eleven (at Highway 9 and County Road 450) received a negative response during a town council work session this week, as elected officials called for more affordable housing and a bigger cash contribution toward community benefits.

“I hope we can find a way to do business, but I don’t think this is it. I think that’s what you're hearing across the board,” said Mayor Ernie Blake, referring to the proposal, named Entrada by developers Kurt Ave and Kirk Michelson.

As reviewed during the work session, the plans called for 23 townhomes and two professional buildings on the site, with about 33 percent of the residential square footage dedicated to affordable housing for residents with incomes at or below 80 percent of the average median income. The proposals also included a $50,000 contribution toward childcare, as well as another $115,000 for pedestrian paths in the area.

The town has looked at several other development proposals for the site in recent years, including a gas station bid by Kum & Go. The 4.13-acre parcel is currently a trailer park, with only four of the trailers occupied, according to Ave and Michelson. The land is in Summit County, and the developers hope to be annexed to the town of Breckenridge, tapping into municipal water supplies.

While town council members appreciated the office space proposed on the land, they want to see significant changes to the plan before considering annexation, especially with regard to affordable housing. The town’s annexation policy specifically calls for “catching up and keeping up” with affordable housing needs, according to planner Laurie Best.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Glaciers Not Retreating in Rocky Mountain National Park

While the glaciers in the Indian Peaks area south of Rocky Mountain National Park are shrinking, glaciers inside the park are not.

The four small park glaciers, which provide late-season runoff to park streams after snow has melted, haven't changed dramatically since the 1930s based on photo comparisons, according to work by independent researcher and geologist Jon Achuff.

Their persistence is likely the result of a "perfect situation" that includes plenty of shade, snow blown in from the west side of the Continental Divide and relatively steady cold temperatures.

"The combination is just such that it's a protected spot," said Achuff, who presented his findings earlier this month at the Rocky Mountain National Park research conference.

Recent studies by the University of Colorado suggest the Arikaree and Arapaho glaciers (Arapaho is the state's largest) in the Indian Peaks Wilderness south of the park have lost 60-plus feet of ice thickness since 1960. Those losses have been largely chalked up to the warming climate and an extended melting season. But the glaciers Achuff studied in Rocky Mountain National Park haven't shown the same retreat.

"We do know there's climate change taking place, and these are not reflecting that," Achuff said.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Get Involved in the White River National Forest

FDRD is a non-profit organization comprised of local citizens who, along with the Dillon Ranger District, provide opportunities for community members to play an active role in the sustainable management of local National Forest lands.

Their program for this summer is:

June 3 - Forest cleanup service project

June 24 - Forest restoration service project

July 7, 8, 9 - Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) and FDRD crew leader training

July 15 - Weed pull service project

Aug. 12 - Fuels reduction-fire mitigation service project

Sept. 2, 3, 4 - VOC/FDRD Mohawk Lakes Trail Days

Sept. 16 - Volunteer Celebration Day

Oct. 14 - Make a Difference Day project sites

FDRD's mission is to promote stewardship of the White River National Forest in Summit County through partnerships, volunteer service, education and support. For more information on FDRD, e-mail Guff Van Vooren at, call (970) 389-6058 or visit

Monday, April 10, 2006

Keystone Citizens League Meets

The Keystone Citizens League will hold its first open meeting of the year today, discussing topics such as a future affordable housing project, and development at Keystone Resort.

David O'Neil, the developer of the Wellington Neighborhood in Breckenridge, will be on hand to discuss the status of his plan to build affordable housing in the Wintergreen area of Keystone near Antler's Gulch. O'Neil had not submitted any plans on the project to the county department as of late March.

Thomas Davidson, of Vail Resorts Development Inc. will update the group on development as Keystone, including the proposed Marriott's Grand Residences at Keystone slated to be constructed in the Hunki Dori parking lot.

They will also discuss the May 2 vote to officially include the Snake River Fire Department into the Lake Dillon Fire Authority.

Members of the Friends of the Swan Mountain Recpath will present an update for paving a 1.5-mile recreation path from Summit Cove to near the Lowry Campground, which is scheduled to begin this summer.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Vail Resorts Picks Corporate Headquarters

Vail Resorts plans to move its corporate headquarters to an office building in Broomfield near the Flatiron Crossing Mall, chief executive Rob Katz told employees Monday.

“It’s got some very nice mountain views,” Katz said Tuesday.

The 10-story building is in the Interlocken area, just off of Highway 36. It is 15 miles from Denver and 10 miles from Boulder.

“Some (employees) are going to be moving into Boulder and some are going to be moving into Denver,” Katz said. “The biggest piece of feedback that I had heard was that people wanted to have the option to live in Boulder.”

Katz has lived in Boulder since 2002, but that didn’t factor into the decision on where to move the headquarters, he said.

On his first day as chief executive officer on Feb. 28, Katz announced that the company would move its corporate headquarters from Avon to the Denver metro area. Katz cited lower occupancy rates, better recruiting opportunities and better access to the company’s properties when he announced the move. About 100 employees will be affected by the move, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of July, Katz said.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Frisco Nordic Center Closes for Season

In a sure sign of spring, the Frisco Nordic Center closed on Sunday.

Nordic Center concessionaires Gene and Therese Dayton thanked all their patrons who enjoyed a very successful ski and snowshoe season.

According to Therese Dayton, the Breckenridge Nordic Center will be open through April 9, and perhaps longer, depending on the snow.

"We had a great season with the best snow in 20 years and a good numbers of skiers and snowshoers, using the Frisco Nordic Center," Therese said. "Record numbers turned out for our major events ..."

For the lowest Nordic pass price for next season e-mail

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dillon Approves Development

The town of Dillon moved one step closer to becoming the home to the highest Harley Davidson dealership in the world this week.

The Dillon Town Council approved a plan by developers to build a retail center and prepare a lot for a family-style restaurant on six acres of vacant land between Blockbuster Video and Comfort Suites hotel.

The new development could be home to a 16,000-square-foot Harley Davidson motorcycle service and sales shop, an Aveda Spa and a Chili's Restaurant.

Local developers Jim Walsh and Dan and Mark McCrerey have letters of intent from all three businesses, but leases have not yet been negotiated, Walsh said.

The group has proposed to split the land - know as Ptarmigan Trail Estates - into six lots. A 25,000-square-foot retail development would sit on two of the lots to potentially house Harley Davidson, Aveda and about nine other small shops. The restaurant would be situated on a third lot next to Comfort Suites, and would be constructed by the lessee. The group does not have immediate plans to develop the other three sites, Walsh said.