Monday, July 31, 2006

Ski Area Needs Room

With construction of the new gondola well under way at the Peak 8 base area, resort officials are looking for a little extra room in their ski school and rental facilities.

The plan, subject to town review, is to put up two temporary tent-like structures this year. A 2,200 square-foot facillity for ski school, to be located just uphill of the existing Kids Kastle, and a 4,800 square-foot structure to provide rental services, proposed for the Peak 8 parking lot.

The existing 3,200 square-foot rental building will be remodeled into a locker room and first-aid facility. Both will be reviewed by the town's planning commission Aug. 1.

The resort is requesting a variance from town codes that specify size and a two-year limit for temporary structures. According to town manager Tim Gagen, the resort sought input from the planning commission during an earlier work session (Nov. 2005). At the time, the planning commission expressed concerns about the architectural compatibility of the buildings, as well as the length of time they might be standing.

While the board wasn't enthusiastic about the aesthetics of the buildings, the need for some temporary facillities is generally recognized, Gagen said.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Historic Breckenridge Home Up for Auction

A pricey piece of Breckenridge's rich gold mining history is coming up for sale Aug. 8 - to the highest bidder.

An historic mansion built 108 years ago by "Gold Dredge King" Ben Stanley Revett, one of Summit County's earliest colorful characters, can be all yours at an Aug. 8 auction - if the price is right.

"It's like selling an antique," said Craig King, president and CEO of J.P. King Auction Company, the national auction house organizing the public sale of the historic home and property.

Current owners Glenn and Mary Campbell operated their former business, Tiger Run Tours, near the property until selling the business in 1992.

The mansion sits on more than 14 acres, right along the edge of the nearly pristine White River National Forest, and features an anachronistic mix of century-old design features and modern amenities. The five-bedroom, three-bath home has a huge front porch and wood burning fireplace along with modern additions like a two-car garage and separate outbuilding with room for three or more cars. There are other modern touches like a hot tub and contemporary kitchen, as well as historical reminders throughout the home, such as a period crystal chandelier that dates to 1878.

Aug. 8 is setting up to be an exciting day, as King's auction company has launched a national promotional campaign to draw potential buyers to Breckenridge for the big auction. Ads in the Wall Street Journal and national magazines like the Robb Report are likely to bring interest from across the nation for the historic property.

"There are people out there that like to own historically significant properties," King said.

"We've got a 108-year old home here, and we feel like there's going to be a lot of interest in it."

Auction selling, however, has some marked differences to traditional property sales. In essence, potential buyers are required to do all of their legwork in advance - lining up financing, inspections, and answers to their questions about the property well before the bidding begins.

"When you're bidding at auction, you're bidding on a non-contingent basis - meaning that once you buy it, it's yours. So you need to be familiar with what you're bidding on," King said.

In the weeks leading up to the Aug. 8 auction, tours of the property are available by appointment through the auction company. A comprehensive information packet about the property and all the contract details is available online at up until the date of the auction. Interested buyers can also schedule an appointment by calling J.P. King at (800) 558-5464, or emailing

The auction will start at 11 a.m., and "once the bidding opens, it probably takes just 10 to 15 minutes to actually sell the property," King said.

You're likely wondering if the Revett property will sell for a price in or around your own personal ballpark. The most recent assigned value for the property: $2.7 million.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ballot Initiative for Summit Housing Authority

A proposed ballot initiative that would fund a countywide housing authority for the next 10 years garnered unanimous support from the Breckenridge Town Council earlier this week.

The Summit Housing Authority is seeking endorsement from all the local towns, as well as from other key constituencies, including the real estate and development community, before moving ahead with the ballot push.

"We need to get strongly behind this," said Town Councilmember Rob Millisor, after asking Summit Housing Authority (SHA) director Bonnie Osborn how far the money would go to address the affordable housing crunch in Breckenridge and around the rest of the county.

"This will raise about $32 million in the next 10 years. How does that address the problem?" Millisor said, describing the planned initiative that would use a combination of a sales tax and development impact fees to raise money. Other council members wanted to know how many units would be built on the ground with the money, and how the funds would be distributed back to the communities where they are collected.

Osborn said it's hard to pinpoint the exact number of units that could be built, explaining that it depends on the cost of land, and whether land may in some cases be donated. At best, she said it might close the gap - projected to climb to 3,000 units in the next few years - by about a quarter.

"It's not going to make much of a dent," she acknowledged.

As currently proposed, the ballot measure would add 0.125 percent to sales taxes around the county, raising about $1.3 million annually. The impact fees would be charged per square foot of new development, climbing on a graduated scale tied to the size of projects.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Real Estate Market is Hot

The real estate market may be cooling off nationally, but over the summer months so far here in Summit County, the homebuying market is hot.

For the second month in a row, transaction volume — or the total dollar amount recorded for residential real estate sales — measured for the month showed a dramatic increase over the same time period last year.

This past June, real estate volume was nearly $163 million for the month — a more than 45 percent jump over June 2005.

In terms of specific June transactions, the 340 recorded were more than an 11 percent boost over the same month last year.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Breckenridge Art Fair - Benefit or Bane

One segment of Breckenridge's business community claims competition from out-of-town art dealers at the July 4th Breckenridge Art Fair is having a negative effect on their sales during the holiday.

"I think without question it impacts the high-end specialty retailers," said Breckenridge Gallery owner Gary Freese.

"I go back to the contention that the town is gridlocked on that weekend," said Freese, in the gallery business locally since 1969.

Along with other gallery owners in town, Freese thinks it doesn't make sense for the town to hold an event that essentially creates competition for local merchants - especially on town property.

Town officials, meanwhile, believe the art fair adds to the overall draw of the town during the holiday, and they have a stack of statistics to prove it, including a 2005 RRC Associates survey showing that at least some visitors come specifically for the art fair.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Frisco Targets Greenhouse Gases

Frisco’s recent decision to sign on to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement is still a worthwhile move, said Stephen Saunders, head of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.

“I enthusiastically applaud their decision,” said Saunders, whose organization has been spreading the word about global warming impacts to the West’s snowpack and water supplies.

Saunders said the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization will this week release a joint report compiled with the Natural Resources Defense Council on climate change impacts to national parks.

Frisco joins 266 other U.S. cities in agreeing to try and meet or beat Kyoto Protocol targets by adopting anti-sprawl land use policies, with urban reforestation and public education campaigns. At the same time, endorsement of the climate agreement means Frisco will urge the state and federal government to enact policies and programs to meet the Kyoto targets, including a seven percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels by 2012.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Raven Golf Club Offers McGetrick Golf Academy

The Raven Golf Club at Three Peaks in Silverthorne will be hosting the Mike McGetrick Golf Academy, one of the top golf instructional programs in the country, for three one-day clinics this summer.

The full-day clinics, which are scheduled for July 29, Aug. 12 and Sept. 23, will include lunch at the Raven Grill. Morning sessions will be devoted to swing analysis and instruction and the afternoon sessions will cover short-game techniques.

Clinics will be limited to 16 students per session to ensure adequate personal attention. A minimum of five students, however, is required for the clinics to run.

"For McGetrick to bring his top-of-the-line instructors here is very exciting," Raven general manager Dan Guinle said.

"We are happy to have them at the Raven as they to step to the forefront in the world of golf."

The cost for the clinics is $395. Instruction will be completed by 3 p.m. at which time students can play 18 holes at a reduced rate of $55.

For more information or to register for a clinic, contact the Raven Golf Shop at (970) 262-3636.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mountain Community Fair

The 22nd Annual Mountain Community Fair begins Friday and runs through Sunday at the Summit County Fairgrounds, located just below the dam in Silverthorne.

This event provides family entertainment, including a CPRA-sanctioned rodeo, carnival rides and events for children of all ages.

Kids Day at the Mountain Community Fair will be Friday. Children 12 and younger are admitted free all day.

There will also be pony rides, a petting zoo, a carnival and a special kids' tent with family games, learning activities and prizes happening each day of the fair. Attendees will also enjoy bull riding, mutton bustin', and daily performances from the Jefferson County Western Aires, in addition to 4-H exhibits and fantastic food from area vendors.

Tickets will be available at the gate each day, starting at 11am. The prices are $7 for adults and$5 for kids 6 to 12. Children under 5 are admitted free.

For more information, contact Jeannie at 970-547-4076.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Colorado Trail Volunteer Opportunities

The Colorado Trail Foundation and the Summit Fat Tire Society are teaming up on the Gold Hill Section of the Colorado Trail.

Volunteers can pick a day to help out. The days include: this Saturday; Tuesday, July 25; Thursday, July 27 and Friday, July 28.

Meet at the Gold Hill Trailhead parking lot at 8 a.m. Bring gloves, long pants, a lunch and plenty of water.

For more information contact Susan at (970) 668-5458 to sign up.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Swan Mountain Bike Path

Groundbreaking for the 1.5 mile Lowry section of the Swan Mountain bike path segment could be just a few weeks away, according to Brad Eckert, the open space and trails planner in charge of the project.

The bidding for the $2 million job closed June 29. Only a final review and approval from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is needed before work begins, Eckert said."They have to give us a notice to approve," Eckert said, explaining that construction of the path over Swan Mountain was delayed at this stage once before.

Federal funding for the work, administered through CDOT, adds a level of complexity to the approval process, he said. Eckert isn't sure if the section will be finished this year.

Most of the money for the Lowry section is available right now, with only a relatively small $45,000 funding gap remaining. A July 20 concert and silent auction is aimed at closing that gap, and more than 200 of the 250 available tickets for the event have already been sold, said the Northwest Colorado Council of Government's Liz Mullen.

Completion of the Lowry section, probably sometime during the summer of 2007, would let cyclists avoid about 2.2 miles of Swan Mountain Road. The section includes about 8,800 linear feet of pathway over an average grade of 4 percent, with a maximum grade of 7 percent.

The project has been in the works for quite some time, and Eckert said he'll be pleased when work finally begins.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Steamboat For Sale - Again

Five years after American Skiing Company last offered the Steamboat Ski Area for sale, it’s on the market again.

American Skiing Co. officials said they have retained the investment banking firm Bear Stearns & Company to market the sale of the Steamboat Ski Area. The ski area is one of eight owned by publicly traded ASC, which is based in Park City, Utah. American Skiing CEO B.J. Fair was in Steamboat on Friday to share the news with Steamboat employees.

The company last sought to sell Steamboat as part of the financial reorganization of debt-straddled ASC in May 2001. The sale to Triple Peaks LLC for $91.4 million was scheduled to go through in March 2002, but ASC backed out at the last minute. Instead of selling Steamboat to a group led by Tim and Diane Mueller of Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vt., ASC opted to sell Heavenly Mountain Resort in California to Vail Resorts.

The abandoned deal led to a lawsuit, which was finally settled for cash in July 2004. The terms of the settlement give the Muellers 30 days to take part in exclusive negotiations with ASC for the purchase of the Steamboat Ski Area. Tim Mueller said he is not sure whether he will try to acquire the ski area. The Muellers have since purchased Crested Butte Mountain Resort and are in the midst of aggressive expansion plans.

Bear Stearns can be expected to screen prospective buyers before making Steamboat’s financials available to them.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sound Wall for Farmer's Korner?

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced it would begin the project to widen Highway 9 near Farmer's Korner next summer.

But there's another question in the air. What - if anything - should be done to alleviate all the new noise a wider road will bring? For many residents of the newish Farmer's Grove subdivision, a concrete wall built 8 to 10-feet high between their homes and the soon-to-be-wider Highway 9 is the best answer.

At the regular county work session Tuesday, a number of Farmer's Korner-area residents showed up to hear a CDOT presentation to commissioners, detailing the options for noise mitigation in the neighborhood.

CDOT laid out three possible scenarios: build a concrete wall along the length of the subdivision, fashion a landscaped "berm" along the same stretch, or do nothing whatsoever.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Summit Foundation Announces Interim Director

In the wake of the departure of longtime executive director Deb Edwards at the end of June, the Summit Foundation announced plans to reorganize its governing body and named former foundation director of development Judi LaPoint to manage major fundraising on an interim basis.

In an effort to encourage all the members of its Board of Trustees to be more actively involved, the foundation has combined the full board with its smaller Advisory Board. A press release from the foundation expressed hope that the consolidation will "foster a spirit of teamwork and proactive responsibility."

The new interim development director, LaPoint, is also fundraising director for the Breckenridge Music Festival. Formerly the Summit Foundation's permanent director of development, she left the foundation last summer after two years. The fundraising position has been vacant since last fall and the board is reluctant to fill it before a replacement is found for Edwards.

"We didn't think it was fair to hire a new (permanent) development director before we have a new executive director," Board of Trustees president Larry Beebe said.

Friday was the final deadline for applications for the executive director position and Beebe said he thinks that realistically it will take another two months or so to fill the slot.

The foundation received more than 40 resumes and has started the review process.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fishing in Colorado

After a hot, dry spring and early summer, monsoonal flows during the past week brought consecutive days of rain to most of Colorado. While the rainfall generally has been a benefit to a parched region, it also has affected fishing in some parts of the state. The effects have been mild in some areas, serious in others.

While many free-flowing rivers and creeks saw rising water levels, discoloration and lowered water temperatures, which affect fishing prospects, the impact on most is temporary. Many began clearing and dropping soon afterward, and most should again be in good condition by the weekend.

Heavy rain and flooding along the Arkansas River below Canon City and some of its tributaries sent a surge of water into Pueblo Reservoir. The river temporarily raised the lake level, muddied the water, carried in debris, dropped the temperature and dramatically slowed down the fishing.

With a projected return to hot, dry weather, conditions are expected to improve in about a week. Fishing in mountain lakes and reservoirs generally remains good, though some may be somewhat discolored by rain-swollen inlet flows.

For the complete, statewide fishing report, visit

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Frisco Views Possible Sites for Colorado Mt. College

Frisco continues discussion about possible sites for Colorado Mountain College (CMC).

Council members and select members of the public will conduct site visits of all five potential locations for the college today.

Sites under consideration include the Frisco Peninsula, the 9.4-acre/Interstate parcel, the Dam Road, the old Summit Medical Center and land near the County Commons.

Town staff will present the compiled public feedback on the issue during the work session today and council members will continue the decision-making process that will culminate in an officially selected site at the July 25 council meeting.

CMC has expressed its preference for a single, centralized campus in Frisco, despite having an offer from the town of Breckenridge of land along Airport Road.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Continental Divide Trail Receives $1.2 Million

The Continental Divide Trail recently received $1.2 million in special funding as part of the President’s budget for the U.S. Forest Service for 2007, thanks to members of Congress from Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.

Use of the funds by the Forest Service, National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management will be based on high-level priorities along the 3,100-mile trail from Canada to Mexico. Special emphasis will be placed on projects that involve volunteers and private sector support.

The Continental Divide Trail was established by Congress as a National Scenic Trail in 1978.

When complete, the “King of Trails” will be the most significant trail system in the world. Stretching along the backbone of the continent from Canada to Mexico, it accesses some of the most wild and scenic places left in the world while conserving the environment and promoting personal well being.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fire Station Up for Sale

The Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue board of directors decided at its June meeting to put the fire department's 25-year-old Montezuma Fire Station on the market, and both the department and the town of Montezuma are hoping for a residential buyer.

"The town is concerned, and we are concerned too, that it not turn into a commercial or industrial area," Lake Dillon board of directors president Tom Hill said.

Montezuma is Summit County's smallest town, with a year-round population of fewer than 50 people. The former silver mining camp sits in the Upper Snake River Basin above Keystone. The town's unpaved main street is lined with aging houses, while the firehouse is situated at the corner of 4th Street and Main.

The former Snake River Fire Department board of directors had been discussing the selling the fire station for about two years. The Montezuma department was recently folded into the Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

One Busy Independence Day!

The sirens sounding through Summit County all weekend could have been one indicator.

The number of people booked into the Summit County Jail could have been another.

The gridlocked traffic in Breckenridge could have been the real indicator.

The bottom line, though, is local fire, police and ambulance workers had their hands full scrambling between calls during the bustling Fourth of July holiday weekend, which packed about 100,000 people into the county.

“We were just plain busy,” Summit County Sheriff John Minor said. “We expect that though.”

Between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Wednesday, 43 people were taken to the Summit County Jail, 18 of whom are charged with DUI, Minor said.

Yes, it was a busy holiday.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Summit County Garden Club Tour

The 16th annual Summit County Garden Club Tour will take place on Saturday, July 29, 2006.

The tour is self-guided and will highlight 8-10 of the most mature, unusual and new alpine gardens in the area. Wildflower gardens, confined-space gardens, and rock gardens with perennial, annual and native plants are all included.

Registration is from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Community/Senior Center in Frisco, Colorado.

Directions are: From I-70W exit 203 and turn south on CO Highway 9. Go 1.6 miles to CR1004. Turn right at the light. The Center is on the immediate left. A detailed map and descriptions of the gardens will be provided at the site.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 on tour day. To purchase tickets in advance, prior to Monday, July 24 only, send your name and a check to Summit County Garden Club, P.O. Box 2423, Breckenridge, CO 80424. Tickets will be held at the desk the day of the tour.

E-mail for information.

Proceeds from the tour are returned to the community through grants for public gardens and education in high altitude gardening. See

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Slight Change in Breckenridge Gondola

Vail Resorts will have to add another tower in the Cucumber Gulch area for the Breckenridge Gondola, but the new design shouldn't delay completion of the project, anticipated for sometime around the beginning of 2007, according resort spokesperson Nicky DeFord.

"It has to do with the road clearance," DeFord said, referring to where the gondola will cross over a realigned County Road 3. The Colorado Tramway Safety Board stipulates a certain distance between the gondola and any road crossings, and the additional tower is needed to ensure that clearance, DeFord added.

"It made sense to put the tower in now," she said, explaining that the work will be done in an area that is already heavily disturbed by construction in the area. The base of the tower will be in the berm of a new detention pond adjacent to the road, she said.

The changes to the plan require a review by the Breckenridge planning commission and approval by the town council. The planning commission will review the issue June 18 and it could go to the town council June 25, according to town manager Tim Gagen.

"I see it as (Vail Resorts) following the proper process," Gagen said, explaining that the review will determine whether the changes fall within the parameters of an existing variance to the Cucumber Gulch Protective Management Area (PMA), or whether an amendment to the PMA variance is needed. The town adopted a strict management overlay for Cucumber Gulch to protect the area's natural resource values, including outstanding alpine wetlands that provide important habitat for many plants and animals.

Gagen said the resort's preliminary plans for the gondola, the Peak 7 base area project and the road realignment didn't quite mesh, resulting in the need for the new tower.

"They found they were off by about two feet," Gagen said.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Dillon/Frisco Water Taxi in Operation

Captain Mike Russo of the Silver Queen pilots the first water taxi between the Dillon and Frisco marinas.

From now until the end of the summer, the water taxi will be available to shuttle individuals, groups, bikes and dogs between Frisco and Dillon. For $8 one-way and $15 round-trip, riders can enjoy the water and the views and avoid driving on the Dam Road.

The idea for a water taxi on Dillon Reservoir occurred to Russo soon after he moved to Summit County from New England last summer.

"I came up with it while I was having a rum runner at the Tiki Bar," he said.

Commonly seen around East Coast harbors, a marina-to-marina shuttle service seemed perfect for Summit County. Russo, 33, worked on the docks last summer at the Frisco marina. In January, he started to think more seriously about the taxi idea. Although he'd spent time on the water throughout his whole life, including eight years as a river guide in Maine, Russo decided to get his Coast Guard-approved captain's license. Once he passed the rigorous test, his next step was to find the right vessel.Most of the water taxi-type boats he found on the internet were outrageously expensive and none were located anywhere near Colorado. Luckily, he stumbled across a custom boat manufacturing company in Ohio and was able to design exactly what he needed. The basic components of the Silver Queen were built in Ohio and Russo himself finished the construction.

The boat is rated to carry 15 to 20 people, depending on their weight, and custom railings are tall enough that riders are not required to wear life-jackets.

Russo is optimistic about the potential demand for his services. The Summit Cove resident said he's committed to giving it a go for a minimum of five seasons. An agreement with the town of Frisco allows Russo to store the Silver Queen overnight at the town marina.

Frisco marina manager Phil Hofer expressed his enthusiasm about the taxi."I think it's a great idea," he said. "It's going to benefit both towns and both marinas." Hofer pointed out that, with the water taxi, visitors in Dillon will now have the option of eating out in either Frisco or Dillon.

Russo plans to start the shuttle every day around 11 a.m., and his license allows him to run it until late in the evening.

Booking the Silver QueenShuttle hours: 11 a.m. until lateFare: $8 one-way, $15 round-trip, $1 extra for bikesAvailable for breakfast charters: Two-hour minimum, call for pricing.

Call the on-board phone: (970) 486-0250

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Upper French Gulch Open Space Dedication

Continental Divide Land Trust invites the public to a Conservation Easement Dedication at Upper French Gulch Open Space (also known as Cobband Ebert Placer) on Saturday, July 8, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

This 173 acre property, located east of Breckenridge, is part of the larger B and B Mines open-space purchase by Summit County Government and the Town of Breckenridge.

Cobb and Ebert Placer is one of the few intact willow complexes and wetlands along a valley bottom in the entire Upper Blue Basin, and is home to native Cutthroat trout. It is a unique piece of property that reminds us of what the beautiful mountain valleys looked like before dredge boat mining decimated the riverbeds in the early part of the last century.

Join this celebration and learn about the natural resources and conservation values of the property. There will be refreshments, brief presentations, and a nature walk. FREE.

Park at the winter trailhead parking area on French Gulch Road and walk in. For directions, more information, or to RSVP, please contact Continental Divide Land Trust at or call (970) 453-3875.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fireworks in Summit County

Visitors to Summit County over the Fourth of July holiday should get their fill of watching fireworks light up the sky, but those who may have hoped to put on a show of their own are out of luck.

Due to the "very high" fire danger in the county, the sale and use of fireworks is banned everywhere except for in the town of Breckenridge, which is still writing an ordinance that would prohibit the Independence Day tradition. Inside the Breckenridge town limits, small fireworks, such as sparklers and ground spinners, are permitted, said town communications director Kim DiLallo.

"Sort of the rule of thumb we use here at the town of Breckenridge is it's permissible if it doesn't leave the ground and it doesn't go bang," DiLallo said.

Still, the town puts a lot of time and effort into putting on its own fireworks show, and with the current fire danger, the town suggests its visitors ooh and aah over that display instead of buying their own fireworks, DiLallo said.

In Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco and in unincorporated Summit County - anywhere outside one of the towns, but still inside the county - fireworks of any kind are prohibited. That means sparklers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, skyrockets - basically anything with a spark or a flame or anything that emits heat - are a no-go.