Thursday, January 31, 2013

Parking in Breckenridge - it's a money-maker

      Revenues from parking fees are on the rise in Breckenridge with the use of new, more advanced technology credited with improving parking enforcement and efficiency in town.

     A series of solar-powered pay kiosks along with an automated license plate reader system have amped up parking rule enforcement in Breck over the last year.

     Following last year's launch of the license plate reader system — technology that can recognize when a vehicle has violated the three-hour parking limit — the number of parking tickets issued in Breckenridge increased 38 percent.

     The police department also reported a 78 percent increase in the number of three-hour parking warnings issued in town from 2011 to 2012.

     Before the system was implemented last year, community service officers frequently walked upwards of six miles per day around town using chalk to mark vehicles, and were generally only able to conduct parking time-limit checks twice daily.

     The majority of free parking spaces in Breckenridge are subject to a three-hour time limit, intended to ensure new spots regularly open up for shoppers and diners, town officials have said.

     The system has also been able to spot stolen, missing or suspect vehicles parked on Breckenridge streets by their license plate numbers, which had been entered into the program's “hotlist.”

     The license plate reader system went active a few months before the new payment kiosks were installed. The 13 pay-and-display machines, located at various pay-parking lots around town, process credit cards in real time, increasing revenues once lost when cards declined, officials with the Breckenridge Police Department said.

     “Our new pay-parking machines have really been an improvement,” police chief Shannon Haynes said. “We haven't had any machine failures and we've seen an increase in revenue data and reporting. Those have just been a complete turnaround for the parking program.”

     The new machines are also easier for customers to use and designed to function in sub-zero temperatures. Although powered by solar energy, the machines passed the cold weather test in Breckenridge earlier this month, when temperatures fell to -20 and the machines reportedly continued to operate without problems.

     The older pay kiosks, replaced in November, were falling into disrepair, Breckenridge officials said.

     Parking is an ongoing topic of debate in Breck, with lots and street spaces frequently approaching capacity on busy winter weekends.

     The Breckenridge Town Council has added the issue to its list of top priorities for 2013, commissioning staffers to do an analysis of the town's current parking system to determine whether the existing lots are the best use of land.

     But town leaders have been vague on possible solutions and this summer face the loss of 17 existing parking spaces from the Tiger Dredge Lot with the construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of Four O'Clock Road and Park Avenue.

     Members of the town council say the town's parking problems are still on the radar and that the town is considering possible locations for new parking reserves.

     “That little Exchange parking garage is a really nice neighborhood parking solution, and we've been looking hard at whether or not there's a couple of other places around town to have a similar solution,” Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said. “It's musical chairs on the parking. It's a big puzzle.”

     Wolfe said she hopes to see any parking places lost replaced elsewhere as the town develops.

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Summit Stage Facing Cut-backs

With little money left in the bank and a $300,000 budget shortfall to make up this year, the Summit Stage is facing some tough decisions.

“We're discussing some service restructuring for 2013 aimed at helping us rebuild our fund balance,” transit director John Jones said.

Officials estimate the free transit system needs to cut spending by $500,000 in 2013 to recover what it owes and begin to rebuild reserves. The number could mean reductions in service, layoffs and pushing back the start of ski season service by two weeks for the coming winter.

Three different cost-cutting plans have been floated, proposing scale backs that would save the system between $500,000 and $900,000 through a variety of different strategies. But they all have a few things in common.

“All of them would result in cutbacks in service,” Summit Stage board president Kent Willis said. “All would result in layoffs.”

The first of the three alternatives proposes reducing all routes to hourly service in the summer — April through December — and starting the ski season two weeks later, Dec. 8 rather than late November.

Jones said many of the cuts proposed would have little impact on customers, but a report from the transit system acknowledges the first plan is bad for both riders and employees and may, “affect ridership negatively for additional periods as a result of shaken confidence by the public in the system.”

The second alternative calls for new windows of shoulder season service, which would scale the system back to hourly service from mid-April to mid-June and again from early September to early December, but would maintain half-hour service during the peak summer and winter months. It would call for fewer layoffs than the other two alternatives, but offers the least cost savings and still pushes ski season service back by two weeks.

County officials said they are trying not to scale back summer service, and any changes likely won't be implemented before April, when the current winter service is set to end.

“We're going to do absolutely everything we can to avoid any service cutbacks this summer,” assistant county manager Thad Noll said. “Our plan right now is to go through the winter schedule through April as already posted. If we make any changes, those would likely be to the summer schedule and they might be as simple as extending the summer.”

The Summit Stage finished 2012 approximately $300,000 in the red after a number of expenses — including maintenance on an aging fleet of buses and vacation coverage for veteran drivers — exceeded expectations. The transit system's savings account, once close to $4 million, has been severely depleted in recent years following the construction of a new fleet maintenance facility.

The Summit Stage Board of Directors will likely make a decision on this year's cost-saving measures at its next meeting, slated for the end of February.

Posted for:  Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

Monday, January 28, 2013

Breckenridge to Reconsider Plastic Bag Ban

The Breckenridge Town Council passed on a proposal that would ban plastic bags at large grocery stores and encourage other retailers to cut back on single-use bags, calling the plan unfair.

It was the first time town leaders have reacted to a concrete plan for bag reduction in Breckenridge since the new council put the issue at the top of its priority list last year.

But officials said they weren't willing to adopt a proposal that treated single-use bags differently depending on who gave them out.

“This grocery versus retail thing, I'm adamantly opposed to that,” Councilman Mike Dudick said. “If plastic bags are bad, they're bad. We, as a community, can't be kind of pregnant on this.”

Without voting on it, the council returned the proposal to the SustainableBreck Business Task Force — the panel of individuals from local the restaurant, retail and lodging industries who drafted the plan — asking for revisions last week.

City Market has declined to comment on the bag-reduction discussions to the Summit Daily, but town staffers said the company indicated it would not oppose or support a bag ban initiative during discussions with the town.

Town leaders also indicated they wanted a plan that would target both plastic and paper bags. Paper bags require more energy than plastic to manufacture, according to town staffers.

Three bag reduction strategies are currently on the table: a full ban of plastic and possibly paper bags, a fee on each bag — the revenue from which might be directed toward a bag-reduction marketing and education campaign — and a voluntary program encouraging local businesses, residents and visitors to move away from the use of plastic bags.

The task force proposal recommended banning plastic bags at large grocers in Breckenridge within six months, imposing a fee on paper bags and encouraging smaller retailers in town to decrease bag use, with benchmarks over the next few years.

The proposal received generally favorable feedback from the community.

More than 80 percent of people surveyed at a public forum and 66 percent questioned online supported the idea of banning plastic bags at large grocery stores. Approximately 80 percent of respondents at the forum and online backed the idea of asking retailers to voluntarily scale back on single-use bags.

“I feel strongly that we should ban bags at all stores,” one unidentified online respondent stated. “Besides the use of petroleum in making them and long life in the landfill, they are unsightly trash hanging from our trees and bushes around town.”

Opponents of the bag reduction plan generally cite the possible implications on Breckenridge's tourist economy, fueled by visitors who may not be aware of, prepared for or patient with a bag ban when they arrive in town.

“Breckenridge bends over backwards to please tourists,” another unnamed community member stated in an online comment. “Tourists don't come prepared for anything, let alone bring returnable bags on a trip.”

Some have suggested using money generated by a single-use bag fee to supply local lodging companies and shuttle services with reusable bags branded with Breckenridge or local business logos to be provided to visitors.

Both Aspen and Telluride have implemented somewhat-successful bag bans in recent years. Fees on bags have been effective in reducing use in other jurisdictions, according to town staffers.

Approximately 14 million trees are cut and 12 million barrels of oil used annually to produce paper and plastic bags. Billions of bags end up as litter every year and are ingested by wildlife, introducing toxic chemicals into the food chain, a memo from town staff stated.

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Breckenridge's Snow Sculpture Contest

By now, the figures have started to emerge from the giant blocks of ice at Breckenridge's Riverwalk Center parking lot. Beneath the red Chinese flag, a family strides forth from the snow. They are surrounded by animals, including an ox, a dog and two ducks. Around them, a family works on the sculpture, tapping and scraping as the figures come to life beneath their tools.

Artists from Harbin

Team captain is Hongchun Liang, who has been an ice sculpture artist for 15 years. His wife, Yang Jiang, is the team representative, and their daughter Lu Liang also helps with the sculpting. Lu Liang said she has done this for only two years, not as long as her father or the other two team members, Zhigang Sheng and Shuo Yuan. Lu Liang is the only one of the group who speaks English.

The team hails from Harbin, a city in northeastern China that is famous worldwide for its ice and snow sculpture festival. Cold winds from nearby Siberia spill into the area, which often records temperatures as low as -36 degrees Fahrenheit. This is ideal for the snow festival, however, which lasts for an entire month.

The ice sculpture exhibits in Harbin are impressive in size, both height and length. Full-size buildings are made from blocks of ice and every night the place is illuminated by lights. These large sculptures are found on Sun Island, across the river from the city, and an area called “Ice and Snow World.”

According to Lu Liang, in order to be a sculptor in Harbin, a person must have first officially studied as an artist. Often, this training starts young, around the age of middle school students.

Happy Winter

The Chinese team has entitled their sculpture “Happy Winter.” It shows a family of mother, father and child surrounded by animals and next to a small silo. Hanging on the sides of the silo are chili peppers, traditional in China, and sheaves of corn, as a nod to the sculpture's American setting.

Lu Liang said that the team has been doing well, especially since it hasn't been nearly so cold in Breckenridge as it is in Harbin, where they usually work.

The team was unable to bring many of the tools that they usually use in Harbin, due to restrictions of such items on airplanes. Now in Breckenridge, they are using their creativity to make do. Hongchun Liang even made his own tool to his personal specifications.

Each team's block of ice weighs approximately 40,000 pounds. The block started at 10 feet wide, 10 feet long and 12 feet high, requiring the teams to use scaffolding in order to carve at the top of the block.

Culture connection

The students in Jocelyn Subberwal's Chinese class at the Peak School took a field trip Friday to the Riverwalk Center to meet the Chinese sculpting team. Subberwal was excited to jump on the opportunity for the students to talk to native Chinese speakers.

“I really hope that they are really able to connect with them and use their Chinese to ask them something that resonates with them a little,” Subberwal said.

The students prepared questions that they wanted to ask and Subberwal provided them with relevant vocabulary, including “snow,” “ice” and “sculpture.” They have only been studying for a short time, but all of them seemed to be excited to study the snow sculpture up close and interact with the team.

The first thing they pointed out were the Chinese figures carved into the sculpture. They correctly identified the “good luck/happiness” symbol and (through Subberwal's translating help) asked questions about the sculpture itself and life in Harbin.

“I think it's really cool,” said Kait Schultz. The language aspect of learning more about it was difficult, she said.

“I've only been studying it for a semester. I have a pretty decent vocabulary so far,” she continued, but added that she wasn't quite sur what order the words should go in to make sense.

Her classmate Cassidy Citron said she's interested in learning more about the city of Harbin, though she also wasn't quite sure exactly how to phrase it.

A group of students gathered around Lu Liang, shifting their feet, excited yet nervous to try out their Chinese conversation skills.

They started with the easy ones, asking, “Ni hao ma?” (How are you?) Lu Liang smiled and replied she was fine. They grew bolder, asking about where she was from and what her name was.

“You all speak very well,” Lu Liang told them in Chinese.

At the end of the visit, the students gathered with the sculptors for a group photo, standing smiling in front of the “Happy Winter” sculpture, looking like one large, happy, cross-cultural family.

“I think it's really nice,” Subberwal said of the opportunity to speak with the Chinese team. “For us it really is meaningful, particularly because there are ice sculpture contests in Harbin, we have ours, the climates are similar. I think it's really good.”

Friday, January 25, 2013

Breckenridge Snow sculpting Contest

It all started with the toss of a coin in the office. Heads, they would compete in the Ullr Fest snow-sculpting contest. Tails, they would build a float for the parade. The coin came up heads.

The year was 1980, and the group of realtors built their first competitive snow sculpture using what was then an additive process, where snow is piled up to create the sculpture instead of cut away from a preformed block. And they won — that year, and the next and the next.

Then in 1985, while they were sculpting a piece showing Prince Charming bending over Sleeping Beauty to give her a kiss, a man stopped by to ask if they'd considered taking their talent to nationals. “We didn't know there was a whole worldwide community of snow artists out there,” said team member Rob Neyland. “Right then and there I knew that we had to make that a Breckenridge event.”

And so the group embarked on a lengthy process to put Breckenridge on the snow-sculpting map. They worked with the town, the resort and other local groups to found and host the Colorado state championships while at the same time making a name for their team on the national and international stages.

Today, the fruits of their labor take the form of the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships, which draws teams from around the world and upwards of 32,000 guests each year, braving sometimes subzero temperatures to witness the awe-inspiring and otherworldly manifestations come to life in snow.

And Breckenridge is now officially on the map, known internationally as one of the premier snow sculpting venues in the world.

The process

The event takes place in stages. First, Breckenridge Ski Resort makes the snow, which is hauled by dump truck to the site by the Town of Breckenridge Public Works Department. Front-end loaders and a huge snow blower transfer the snow into wooden molds, alternating with volunteer human laborers, who jump in, stomp the snow to pack it down, and jump out to wait for the next layer.

This is how the 10x10x12-foot starting blocks are created.

Sculpting commences this year at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22 with a shotgun start and ends 65 hours later at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26.

Sculptors work with hand tools such as vegetable peelers, small saws and chicken wire to cut away snow and render their designs; no power tools or colorants are allowed. Participants often leave support beams in place until the last night and then remove them hoping the sculptures maintain their structural integrity, Neyland said.

Sculptures do collapse — like in 1988 at nationals, held at the Milwaukee Zoo, when the Breckenridge team's piece deconstructed 20 minutes before judging. Still, the weather and snow conditions in Breckenridge make this less likely to occur here than in other locales, Neyland said.

“I think that it's important to note the subtractive nature of this art form,” he added. “It makes it challenging. And literally it is a performing art. Think of it as very slow theater — because you are performing this art on the public stage and you only get one shot at it.”

The competition is also a race, Neyland said in a 2012 film by Second Act ( “There's a 65-hour competition period and it's a pretty grueling, hardworking 65 hours.”

The last night — Friday, Jan. 25 — is said to be one of the best times to visit, as the artists prepare to stay up the whole night to finish final detail work on their sculptures.

By Friday, too, Neyland said the sculptures start to sing. “When the internal form of the sculpture is exposed to the cold night air, it cures. The whole sculpture starts to turn into a crystalline structure,” he said. “When my teammate is 10 feet away and I can hear and feel the strikes of his chisel at the base, it's because it's become a crystalline structure. It's still fragile but very solid. It's truly a remarkable thing.”

Guests are invited to view the entire process, from the sculptures' creation through the weeklong viewing of finished sculptures Jan. 27-Feb. 3. At night, the white pieces glisten, lit up by eco-friendly LED lighting.

International stage

Teams are selected by committee from a pool of applicants based on their performance in other snow sculpting competitions, the designs they submit and other considerations. This year, 16 teams were chosen from a pool of 42 applicants. It's the widest and most diverse field from the largest group of applicants yet, said Rachel Zerowin, spokesperson for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber.

Among the competitors are an all-female team, new from Argentina, that will sculpt a caracol, or snail. Other countries new to the competition are Iceland, Singapore, Ecuador and Mongolia. They join teams from Australia, Baltic (Latvia/Estonia), Canada-Yukon, Catalonia-Spain, China, Germany, Great Britain-Wales, Mexico, USA-Alaska and USA-Breckenridge.

Some, like Mexico, practice and compete in sand, so they have to translate their skills to snow upon arrival in Breck.

“I must say that I have the greatest of respect for people that perform this art form in sand,” Neyland said. “Sand is a very different medium. Snow is pretty solid. Sand, you basically pile up and go from the top down. You don't really get the chance to go back and mess with it.”

After coming to the Breckenridge event for a few years, Team Mexico took first place in 2011. “I called them out as most improved team,” Neyland said. “They obviously came with their eyes open; they took notes and learned and came back and applied that. In 2011 they pulled out an absolutely stunning piece. They came from a no-snow environment and cut their teeth on that art form in Breck.”

This year Team Mexico will sculpt “Whal-e,” a mechanical whale composed of plates, rivets, a gear system and a navigation controller. The message is about the superiority of natural over mechanical beauty, and the need to solve global warming.

Team Iceland brings “Lopapeysa,” a ball-shaped snow house with windows in the pattern of a traditional Icelantic sweater.

From the U.S. come Team Alaska as well as Breckenridge's homegrown team of Tom Day, Tim West and Margo Jerkovitz, led by Keith Martin. The local team is creating “8 Seconds to Glory,” a bull and rider inspired by Breck's new summer rodeo.

Last year Team Canada-Québec took first place with “Great Expectations,” a sculpture of Quebec's ice harvesting history. The piece also won the Artists' Choice and People's Choice awards. Second place went to Team Germany for “Dancing Screens,” an angular, abstract work in snow symbolizing how interpretations change with perspective, intended to highlight the need for a critical point of view in today's media-driven world. Team Baltic (Latvia-Estonia) took third with “Discover the Edge of the World,” and the Kids' Choice award went to Team Alaska for “The Deadliest Catch: Calamari's Revenge,” in which the mighty beast pulled a ship into the depths of the ocean.

This year's winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 27, along with the Artists' Choice award and the voter-driven People's Choice and Kids' Choice awards. There are no cash prizes, only recognition within and beyond the snow sculpting community.


New for 2013, folks can follow the teams online and see the submission sketches at, along with daily photo updates at Also new are activities like photography workshops, a VIP party, the opportunity to host a team for a day and a snow sculpture gift pack — which can be purchased in conjunction with lodging for an extra-participatory experience, Zerowin explained. For info, visit or call (800) 462-7325 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (800) 462-7325 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting .

Inside the Riverwalk Center, the Snow Lounge offers warmth and comfy leather sofas, a store featuring keepsakes like pins, postcards and posters, an exhibit exploring the last two decades of snow sculpture championships and the snow-sculpting process, and voting boxes for the People's Choice ($1 donation) and Kids' Choice awards. The Ice Village, on the Riverwalk Center lawn, displays ice carvings.

“Rarely does the public get to see the living act of sculptures performed,” Neyland said. “Generally you see the sculpture when it's done. The thing that's so incredible about this art form is that people literally get to see the transformational act of the birth of these sculptures. (The artists) start with a 20-ton block of snow and literally release the sculpture that lies within that block of snow — not unlike Michelangelo's famous quote, ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.'”

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Breckenridge: Re-envisioning the Riverwalk

Residents and visitors may see the area between the Riverwalk Center and the arts district begin to transform in the coming years, as the town council explores a new vision for the cultural core of Breckenridge.

A consultant hired to draft a redesign of Breckenridge's artistic center, including the Riverwalk and the Blue River Plaza presented a series of proposals to town leaders Tuesday that would bring a new look to the area.

The project, dubbed the arts district renaissance by town staffers, would aim to connect the Riverwalk Center on the west side of Main Street with the arts district campus on the east side via the Blue River Plaza, transforming the area into a walkable corridor dedicated to arts and culture.

“We want it to develop into a really special place that would preserve open space and the art and the soul of Breckenridge,” town spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said.

The vision the consultant proposed Tuesday pitch, first and foremost, a makeover of the Blue River Plaza, which would relocate many of the mature evergreens that are beginning to obscure views of the Tenmile Range.

One of the options proposes enhancements to the Riverwalk Center lawn, adding a play area for children with a climbing wall located on a retaining wall, a boulder maze and other features alongside the river. The nearby parking lot would be transformed into a parking plaza, which could be cleared of cars when needed and used instead for events.

The consultant's vision for the Blue River Plaza involves moving existing evergreens, including the town Christmas tree, to make space for more aspen and cottonwoods and removing picnic tables in favor of café-style tables and chairs.

Council members at Tuesday's meeting were open to the ideas presented, though some expressed reservations about potential costs and most weren't interested in relocating the town Christmas tree.

“Some things just happen to create their own reason for being and that Christmas tree has done that in this town,” Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe told consultants.

The renaissance project coincides with a redesign of the town arts district, which includes a campus of historic buildings, such at the Tin Shop where various arts classes and workshops are hosted. Town officials are also contemplating improvements to the Riverwalk Center to allow its uses and programming to be expanded in the future.

Posted for Nancy Yearout, RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Business is Steady in Summit County

Despite a healthy dose of snow in December, skier visits at 21 resorts across Colorado fell 11.5 percent during the first part of the season compared to 2011, according to data collected by Colorado Ski Country USA.

But in Summit County, business held fairly steady to the prior year between the start of the ski season and the end of the year, occupancy and sales data for several local towns show.

Vail Resorts reported a 2 percent increase in skier visits through the holiday season, noting a rise in use by season pass holders, according to a financial earnings statement released earlier this month.

Lift ticket, ski school, dining and retail revenues were all up during the first part of the season as well, though the numbers are not broken down by resort.

Locally, Vail Resorts owns Keystone Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort, but the financial report also includes data from its Eagle County and Tahoe resorts.

In Breckenridge, short-term lodging occupancy was flat in November to the year before. It took a slight 3 percent dip in December, but revenues held steady to 2011 numbers, according to data provided by the Breckenridge Resort Chamber.

“When we look at Breckenridge, it's the diversity here,” BRC spokeswoman Rachel Zerowin said. “People come here to do more than ski.”

Local businesses across the county reported business was generally good through the holiday season.

“I don't think it's been a terrible year,” Dillon Dam Brewery manager George Blincoe said. “It's been a decent year so far.”

For others, the first part of the season was better than decent. Mary Elaine Moore, owner of Stork and Bear Company and Around the World Toys, said her customers seemed to be finding ways to make the most of their visit off the ski slopes when the snow wasn't falling.

“Our numbers are really strong compared to last year,” Moore said. “I think this year they've figured out that even if there isn't snow, there are things to do up here.”

Industry officials attributed the statewide dip in skier visits to on-again off-again snowfall, which delayed openings at some resorts.

“First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days,” Colorado Ski Country USA president and CEO Melanie Mills stated in a recent release of the period between opening day and Dec. 31. “Snow did not arrive in earnest until mid-December, but when it came, it was in time for in-state and out-of-state guests to enjoy wonderful wintery holidays at resorts.”

Vail Resorts' financial data reflected a similar trend of a lull in business until the snow began to stack up in December.

“We were very pleased to see that once more typical conditions arrived at our resorts, we saw very strong visitation and guest spending,” VR CEO Rob Katz stated in a release earlier this month.

Breck got 25 inches of snow in December, a number on par with the 20-year average for the month, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Vail Daily reporter Lauren Glendenning contributed to the reporting of this story.

Posted for Nancy Yearout, RE/MAX Properties of the

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dillon Marina Wins Award

Being hundreds of miles away from the ocean didn't stop Dillon Marina from gaining recognition as being one of the best in the country. Marina Dock Age magazine, a nationally recognized trade publication, recently named Dillon Marina as its Marina of the Year in the large category.

To earn the distinction, marinas must go through a long application process and are judged under 10 categories, such as facility improvements, customer satisfaction, environmental responsibility and more.

“I think we've got a lot going on and Bob Evans, our marina manager, is excellent and strives for excellence,” said Susan Fairweather, director of economic development, marketing and communications in Dillon. “This certainly speaks to his commitment, as well as the town's commitment.”

This marks the first time the Dillon Marina has won this award, though not for lack of trying. Evans said he has applied for the award for the past five or six years. While he feels that the recent improvements made to the marina have helped win the award, he also said it's more than that.

“It's not doing one thing well, it's doing everything well. That's what it takes to win this award,” he said.

Evans likens Dillon Marina's win to that of a movie winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

“Everything has to be top notch or you don't win,” he said. “It's based on all the players on the team. There are a lot of people behind the scenes. It's not just the marina, it's the town and all the help that the marina gets from all the departments. You couldn't just do it by yourself. You gotta have everything right.”

The marina, which dates back nearly 40 years, has 260 long-term slips and 36 short-term slips, making it a “large” marina at more than 250 slips. Evans estimates only about 10 percent of the nation's marinas are considered large and many of those are along the coast. Dillon Marina occupies a 56-acre footprint with more than 6,000 feet of docks. In 2012, more than 55,000 guests visited the marina. Improvements to the marina, including the parking lot, longer ramps and utility lines, will continue in the spring.

“We're looking forward to an exciting year,” Evans said.

Posted for Nancy Yearout, RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Silverthorne's Town Cneter Project

The town of Silverthorne is once again taking steps towards developing a walkable, pedestrian-friendly town center. Town council and consulting experts have been reviewing previous plans and studies and have scheduled an open house on Feb. 6 for interested parties to attend, view a presentation and ask questions.

The desire to create a downtown center is not a new one for Silverthorne. The Silverthorne Urban Renewal Authority was created in 1996 with the purpose of improving and revitalizing areas of the town that needed it through economic development efforts. This point of focus included the idea of a downtown core.

“Since then, we've gone through a lot of different processes,” said Ryan Hyland, Silverthorne assistant town manager.

The concept was revisited in the 2008 comprehensive plan, when changes were made to allow taller buildings and on-street parking, among other things. The goal was to create a new and improved blueprint for the town's commercial areas.

In 2011 the town brought in Downtown Colorado, Inc. and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to further discuss the plans, gather information and make an assessment. A community survey showed that the public felt strongly about concentrating on economic development and the development of a downtown core.

One of the changes made from the original 1996 urban renewal plan is the size of the area concerned. The original plan included the entirety of the commercial districts within the town, while the new plan shrunk the town core boundaries. The town core now stretches from the north side of Interstate 70 to Sixth Street. It includes the Blue and Green villages of The Outlets at Silverthorne, as well as the commercial property on the east bank of the Blue River and along Adams Avenue.

Silverthorne Town Councilwoman Ann-Marie Sandquist believes that one reason the downtown area has been so long in the planning stage, without actually getting off the ground, is that the previous size of the town core was too big.

“Too big a chunk got bitten off,” she said. “We're trying to be focused; we're trying not to bite off more than we can chew.”

Another reason for delays was funding. Projects like the one proposed cost money and the question was where that would come from. According to Sandquist, the town had previously been waiting for private money to come in and start the development, but that didn't happen.

“As we have talked about this and gone through the process, we realize that it does have to be a public/private partnership to do that,” Sandquist said.

One of the tools the town is using is called tax increment financing (TIF). This is not a new tax but rather a new source of tax revenue. A tax baseline is established, then an analysis is done on what additional taxes may be generated when the improvement project is completed. The urban renewal authority can then use that amount for a portion of project costs and other publicly beneficial improvements.

A blight assessment must be done in order to use the TIF. A blighted area is property that is deteriorated, unhealthy or unsafe. The last blight assessment was done in 1996 and needs to be performed again in order to update the new plan.

The next step is the upcoming Feb. 6 meeting, where the public is invited to watch a formal presentation and ask questions about the project.

Hyland said that the open house is for “anyone who's interested in the potential future of a pedestrian-oriented downtown in Silverthorne; anyone who is a resident, business owners, property owners, maybe even people from outside Silverthorne who are interested in seeing another downtown area in the county.”

The new plan goes to the planning commission's Feb. 19 meeting. If it is approved there, it will come before the town council at its Feb. 27 meeting. Both meetings are open to the public.

“I think it's really an exciting piece, an evolution of trying to get all the pieces in place to create that downtown,” Hyland said.

Sandquist is optimistic about the work ahead.

“I feel like we have a pretty dynamic council right now that's really on board with it and interested in making it work, and we've been going through the process for a couple of years with our downtown core study and things like that. I'm excited,” she said. “It's time to get that done. People have been clamoring for this for a long time.”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Top Ten Housing Predictions for 2013 by Dave Liniger

Top Ten Housing Predictions for 2013 by Dave Liniger

Want to know what the “Top Dog” of RE/MAX International has to say about what the real estate housing market will do in 2013? 

Check out the You Tube video published by RE/MAX International!

Click the link below to view the video (you may need to open it in a new page - just click "OK" to open it in a new page).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Breckenridge exhibit showcases 100 years of Summit County skiing

For whatever the reason, skiers, snowboarders and other downhillers seem to love dressing up and hitting the hill in retro gear on April Fool's Day and other holidays. It may seem funny now, but back in the day, those high-waist ski pants and one-piece suits were the trendiest things on the slopes. The culture and industry have changed a lot since then, from clothing to equipment.

The Summit Ski Exhibit in Breckenridge celebrates rarities such as vintage clothing, skis, photographs and other objects in its show at 308-B S. Main St. The new Breckenridge Heritage Alliance exhibit, open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., takes up the entire downstairs of the building. It spotlights the changes that the Colorado ski industry has experienced since its early days, now expanded to include Breckenridge Ski Resort's 50 years in existence.

Numerous historical objects, donated and loaned by locals, help tell the story of snow sports in Summit County.

“Many wonderful friends and supporters of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance realized the importance of keeping this history alive by sharing these articles from the past,” said operations manager Cindy Hintgen.

One of the articles in the exhibit is a “Sno-Surfer,” one of the earliest snowboards, manufactured in the 1960s by Minnesota's White Bear Water Ski Company.

The Payne family, from McKinney, Texas, visited the exhibit and was surprised by some of their discoveries. “I didn't realize that snowboards were around in 1985. The first time I remember hearing about it was in the 90s,” recalled Michelle Payne.

In fact, in spite of the occasional rivalry between skiers and snowboarders, snowboards contributed to the rebirth of skiing, according to Gordon Brownlow, a guide at the exhibit. “Snowboarding saved the skiing industry. Around the 70s or 80s, until Burton started pushing the snowboards, I really believed that skiing was becoming a diminutive activity,” he said. According to Brownlow, snowboards also helped the development of modern skiing equipment, whose shapes and materials evolved influenced by snowboard manufacturing.

Learning how ski shapes have improved and the way physics played a part in it was a highlight for Cailey Payne, who visited the exhibit with her family. The outfits were also a favorite for Cailey and her sister Olivia, who found the development of Breckenridge Ski Resort to be an interesting feature too.

Another curious piece on display is U.S. Pro Mogul team head coach Scott Rawles' banana-print denim trench coat. According to The Denver Post, Rawles bought the coat at a yard sale for 25 cents when he moved to Breckenridge in 1979. The coat inspired the nickname “Banana Man” after he made it his daily uniform, wearing it day and night around town.

Maureen Nicholls, a 47-year Summit County resident, loaned many items to the exhibit, including a National Ski Patrol Jacket and a first-aid belt for the Breckenridge Volunteer Patrol, dating to 1963-74, approximately. The original splints are still in the belt. Though she noticed dramatic changes in Breckenridge Ski Resort throughout the years with the expansion of peaks 8, 9, 7 and 10, one thing still remains the same: “even though skis were used as a way to go around in the early days, they have always been used mostly for fun. Skiing has always been a recreational activity,” she said.

A response letter to a job application from Breckenridge Ski Corp. — then-owner of the ski area — is also featured in the exhibit. John Timmons was looking for a snowmaking job on the mountain in 1976. Breckenridge Ski Corp. wrote back to inform Timmons that they didn't need anyone to make snow because of the ski area's location at 10,000 feet.

Other highlights include an exhibit showcasing items donated by members of the original 10th Mountain Division, which helped shape the Rocky Mountains' early ski areas such as Vail and Aspen.

“I highly recommend this exhibition. I think that everybody who is a skier or a snowboarder should visit it,” said Kent Payne on his way out of the show.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Baby it's Cold Outside!

A wave of frigid weather that lingered over Summit County this past weekend kept local churches and auto repair shops busy as people struggled to deal with the three-day cold snap.

The temperature bottomed out somewhere in the negative teens or 20s with some reports of readings as low as -30 degrees. Alamosa reached -34 degrees Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather generated business for local auto repair shops over the weekend. Across the county, cars stalled out with dead batteries and flooded injectors.

Ski Country Shell and Towing co-owner Jeff Lewark said he's fielded between 30-50 temperature-related calls for service over the course of the last few days.

“What really compounds it for us at this elevation is the combination of the cold temperatures and thin air,” said Lewark, who noted that the conditions can cause cars to flood injectors with fuel keeping the engine from starting.

Other local mechanics reported an increase in requests for winter wipers, fluid and tires as the mercury dropped.

“We always have a lot of tire-related stuff with freezing temperatures,” said Sergio Alvarez, manager of Big-O Tires in Frisco. “People are sliding, so we're recommending a lot more snow tires.”

Alvarez said as much as a fourth of his business has been related to the cold weather over the last few days.

Local churches have also seen an increase in business in recent days as more of Summit County's homeless come looking for assistance in finding respite from the cold.

Father Dyer United Methodist Church uses discretionary funding to provide hotel rooms for individuals in need.

“We've seen it pick up in the last three weeks,” pastor Loren Boyce said. “When it's cold like this it's hard for me to turn them away.”

Five people came to the church looking for temporary lodging on Monday alone, including one individual who said he had found shelter in a local carport that protected him from the snow, but without walls, did nothing against this weekend's bitter cold.

Aside from a single electrical fire, there were no serious emergencies caused by the temperature drop this weekend, but officials say they likely won't see the worst of the damage until the weather warms up again.

“We don't see the results of hard freezes until it thaws again,” Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher said. “That's when the pipes start bursting.”

For most local residents, however, the cold weather is an inconvenience more than anything, making ski runs and other outdoor plans less comfortable.

“The SHS alpine team raced Friday night in brutal conditions at Keystone,” Frisco resident Luke Wignall told the Daily in an email Monday. “Standing for hours taking hand times for each racer left me with toes still numb today. Meanwhile the kids were waiting their turn in their speed suits. Talk about athletes!”

The temperature is expected to top out in the mid-teens in Frisco today, but forecasts for the rest of the week call for sunshine and warmer weather. Highs could reach 32 degrees by Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weather and Climate Summit in Breckenridge

Talking about the weather isn't always just idle chitchat. Some people take it very seriously — and, as it so happens, they are descending on Summit County this week.

Leading scientists and meteorologist will converge in Breckenridge on Monday for the 24th annual Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit, which lasts through Jan. 18.

Television meteorologist from local networks to CNN to The Weather Channel will join climate scientists from NOAA and various universities to discuss the changing state of our weather.

StormCenter Communications, Inc. is co-organizing the multi-day event, which will take place at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel. The summit's objective is “to increase understanding and awareness of extreme weather and climate events and to foster critical relationships between the media and scientists,” according to a news release.

Monday's events will begin at 8 a.m. with an introduction from Dale Eck, the Global Forecast Center director for The Weather Channel and the summit organizer who will kick off every day of the summit with a weather briefing. A panel discussion on weather preparedness will follow. After a break, Bob Rutledge, the lead forecaster at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, will discuss how space weather impacts the infrastructure outside our planet's atmosphere.

On Tuesday, Greg Carbin, a warning coordination meteorologist with NOAA and the National Weather Service, will talk on the latest technology for predicting high-impact weather events.

At 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Jennifer Francis, a scientist at Rutgers University, will deliver a lecture titled, “Wacky Weather and the Disappearing Arctic Sea Ice: Are They Connected?”

“Unprecedented snowfall in Alaska, the worst drought in two generations, the warmest March on record, ‘Frankenstorm' ... have the weather gods gone mad? It's not your imagination. Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity all around the Northern Hemisphere,” Francis writes in the summary of her talk.

Also on Wednesday, celebrity meteorologist Jim Cantore will speak at a town hall-style event from 6-7 p.m. Free parking will be available at the Beaver Run parking lot.

“Last year was the first year we held the Weather Summit in Breckenridge,” stated summit organizer Eck in a news release. “We were so impressed with the community, the ski area and the level of interest locals have in the weather, that we decided it would be fun to include a public event in this year's program.”

Cantore attended last year's event and agreed to come back this year and present.

“He is the perfect ambassador from our conference to discuss weather events and his experience in the field with the local community,” Eck said.

Cantore has also reported from events such as the Winter X Games, PGA tournaments, NFL games and more. After NBC Universal's acquisition of The Weather Channel in 2008, Cantore has occasionally filled in for Al Roker on “Today.” He also hosted weather segments for NBC during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, according to a news release.

At 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Margaret Davidson, the acting director of the NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, will deliver a talk entitled, “Sea Level Rose, Coastal Vulnerability and Extreme Events — How Big Should My Water Wings Be?”

At 10:15 a.m., Jeff Lukas with the University of Colorado will talk about what trees can tell us about extreme droughts.

Each day of the summit will end with a question and answer session with the speakers.

The Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit, established in 1985 to bring together television weathercasters and meteorologist with leading scientists and researchers, allows for an exchange of ideas to foster improved communication and collaboration between the media and the science community. The ultimate outcome of this summit is the establishment of improved media-scientist relationships that fosters continued dialogue for improved scientific communication to the public, according to a news release.

The summit is sponsored by Breckenridge Ski Resort,Vail Resorts, Breckenridge Resort Chamber, Double Tree by Hilton Breckenridge and Image Audiovisual.

“Weather extremes and adaptation to the changes that are occurring are becoming increasingly part of our daily lives,” event organizers said in a news release. “The impacts can be felt from our local regions to our wallets. These extremes are affecting business, politics, transportation, agriculture and infrastructure. The impacts of Superstorm Sandy will be far-reaching with costs over the next few years exceeding $50 to $100 billion.”

Friday, January 11, 2013

Occupancy Trend Looking Up

While occupancy numbers for resort bookings in Summit County are still suffering from last season's poor snowfall, that trend looks to be making a turnaround.

The month of December was down in occupancy by 2.6 percent from 2011.

“It is no surprise that December's business is down from last year,” said Ralf Garrison, director of the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP). “Advanced reservations have shown that trend for the past six months since the trend came forward.”

The reasons for the downward trend, Garrison said, were due to last year's lack of snow combined with this year's slow start, as well as the relative uncertainty of the economy. Discussions about the economy during the presidential election quickly became discussions about the fiscal cliff, which affected consumer confidence.

“Last year was a bad year and there's a little bit of a hangover effect,” Garrison said. “Guests were concerned about whether the resorts would be back in Mother Nature's good graces. They sat on the sidelines longer and waited … for insurance.”

The snow that the mountains received around Christmas was positive, said Garrison. Although it was too late for out-of-state visitors to take advantage of, those closer to the area, such as people on the Front Range, got the “snow message” and have started coming back.

“Now the elections have come, the fiscal cliff has come and the snow has come,” Garrison said. “The rhetorical question is if there's enough momentum being created now that we can offset the slow start.”

According to the numbers in MTRiP's latest occupancy report, the answer to that question is “yes.” Midweek occupancies in January are consistently pacing above last year by at least a few points each day and some days by as much as 15 percent higher. Overall levels will be between 40 and 60 percent occupied each day. The weekend revolving around the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday is looking particularly positive.

The positive trend looks to continue into February. The day of the Mardi Gras Ball, Feb. 9, may even push past 90 percent occupancy. Predictions for the month of March show a decline in the first half of the month with an increase in the second half. The winter season, overall, is currently pacing 5 percent above last year's occupancy at the same time.

The increased amount of visitors during the past few snowfalls is positive in more ways than just numbers, said Garrison, as they will act as messengers to others.

“They bring with them smartphones, that have the communications power of a broadcast studio and a social network the size of the universe and they begin to communicate a message to the rest of their friends and network about how the Christmas season was,” Garrison said.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

2013 Starts off with a Bang

The first week of 2013 is about the same as 2012’s first week. Eight properties closed this year and nine closed in 2012. The average sold price for the first week is down about 12%. Properties placed under contract are up almost 100% as the activity from 2012 keeps its momentum going into 2013.


The current inventory of properties under contract is up as well by about 5.5%. Overall the first few moments of 2013 are showing positive signs of, yet another, year of potential improvement in the number of properties selling.

Preliminary numbers for 2012 overall, show a very strong gain in sold properties that, right now, looks like it will be around 17%. The average sold price is basically showing flat with about a 1% countywide improvement. Active properties for sale are down about 15%.

Click on the link below for a full report:

Monday, January 07, 2013

December Snowfall Exceeds Average

Summit County got the white Christmas many snowsports enthusiasts had been pulling for, rounding off a December that exceeded average snowfall accumulations.

“Conditions could have been much worse if we had not received the moisture we did in December,” conservationist Phyllis Ann Phillipps stated in a recent release.

Statewide snowpack piled up to 112 percent of average in December, but it wasn't enough. Snowpack in the Colorado River Basin is 68 percent of average, and statewide, snow accumulations are still behind last year's readings, according to data from the National Resources Conservation Service.

Experts say the winter season has been dominated by high-pressure systems and an uncooperative jet stream that left Colorado in a dry spell through much of November.

Storm patterns changed in early December, with a few productive storms elevating the snowpack from just 36 percent of average on Dec. 1.

But the bluebird skies returned after the new year, and weather watchers speculate it could be the end of the week before Summit County gets another dose of powder.

A storm is on track to move inland off the Pacific coast on Thursday and reach Colorado by Friday or Saturday.

“Right now there are several options available for this particular storm,” NWS meteorologist Dave Barjenbruch said. “For Summit County, things are looking definitely like we're going to see a pretty good chance of light snowfall.”

But forecasters expect frigid temperatures, rather than snow to be the defining feature of the upcoming system for the north-central Rockies. The mercury, which settled comfortably in the mid-30s throughout the week is expected to plunge into the single digits during the day through the weekend and well below zero at night, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

“It could be a rather extended cold snap, with those very cold temperatures from Saturday through maybe the first half of next week,” Barjenbruch said.

Snow accumulations are expected to be modest through next weekend's maybe-storm, with forecasters calling for a few inches on the slopes and an inch or two in the towns.

Colorado's depleted reservoirs and streams depend on a healthy snow season this year. Statewide reservoir storage was 68 percent of average and 38 percent of capacity at the end of December, according to the NRCS.

March and April are usually the snowiest months of the year for Summit County.

The local push

While forecasters are only mildly optimistic for new snow this week, locals will be pushing hard for some fresh powder during the 50th annual Ullr Fest, a weeklong tribute to the Norse god of snow that continues today.

The off-beat Breckenridge celebration is marked by a week of unusual events and a temporary trend of horned Viking hats on the slopes. Tonight, the festivities continue with a family night of Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and bonfire at the Gold Run Nordic Center on Tiger Road.

Additional information about Ullr Fest is available online at

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Ullr Fest's 50th Anniversary

The town of Breckenridge is busy preparing for its 50th year of Ullr Fest, starting Sunday. The weeklong festival sweeps through town every year, drawing crowds with its events, contests and parade down Main Street. Its impact on the local businesses in town, however, is less about money and more about town culture and atmosphere.

“The restaurants usually benefit the greatest, although the retail merchant sector is the largest base of business,” said Sheri Shelton, owner of the Hand and Glove store on Main Street. “My shop does OK with it. It's kind of a mixed bag.”

One thing that can be said for Ullr Fest is that it brings in the crowds, though they may or not be shopping at local businesses.

“I definitely see the impact,” said Bryan Etkie, supervisor at the Breckenridge Welcome Center. “A lot of people come out every year around that time. A lot of people come through and as soon as they experience it they come back.”

Etkie said that about half of those visiting the welcome center are aware of the festival, while the other half are surprised and learning about it for the first time. Some have come specifically for Ullr Fest.

“I remember this group of nine ladies from Texas that (said they) have been coming every year for nine years,” Etkie said. “It's growing in popularity.”

At Holly's Pizzazz Boutique, the business doesn't necessarily pick up, but people do come in, mostly to buy Ullr hats.

“I don't think it does (pick up) except for (that) we do sell the Ullr helmets,” said Sally Ensign, a tailor who works out of the boutique. “People do run in on the day of the parade yelling ‘I need horns! I need horns!' which is great.”

Steve Lapinsohn, who owns three stores — Main Street Outlet, Columbia Breckenridge and The Northface Breckenridge — with his wife, Susan, prefers to look at the big picture when it comes to the festival.

“I think, in general, any event helps our business,” Lapinsohn said. “I think that any event that we have … brings people to town and gives them a good feeling about what Breckenridge is, and brings them back.”

Shelton agreed.

“You have to have events to bring people to town and to show the town off internationally,” she said. “It brings a nice culture to Breckenridge and people remember how fun and really different Breckenridge is and that's really good too. We don't try to be Vail and … we don't want to be Aspen. We want a few distinctive events that really say ‘Breckenridge.'”

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Wow! 16.4 percent up

Yesterday was the last day to tally up closings for 2012 and with that thought 2012 is 16.4% ahead of 2011 for sold residential Summit County Properties and with any closings that occur today that 16.4% is only going to improve!

Today our market in Summit County has virtually the same number of properties getting ready to close as it did last year at this time. The number of properties for sale today is down 11% from last year. An interesting point: The average list price last year at this time was close to $750k and today the average list price is close to $700k.

Average list prices are down and the number of sales are up even with a smaller inventory of properties for sale - interesting stuff. The average sold price in Summit County is up 1%.

A terrific end to 2012!
Click the link below for a complete update: