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Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Summit County officials reflect on 2013 successes, look ahead to 2014 projects
The year 2013 is officially over, and although every year has its ups and downs, Summit County has much to be thankful for and plenty to look forward to in 2014, government officials said this week.
There were a number of wins from Summit County government’s perspective, Commissioner Dan Gibbs said Tuesday. Much of the success derived from a conscious effort by the current board to build collaborative partnerships with towns, nonprofits and other entities around the county.
Gibbs’ favorite example is the Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center and New South Branch Library project. County, town of Breck and Breck Grand Vacations officials got together with individuals and businesses to raise the funds to cover the estimated $8 million renovation of the 1909 schoolhouse in Breckenridge.
“I think it’s probably safe to say 2013 was a great year for Summit County government,” Gibbs said. “I really think that is going to be a gem of a building, not just for Breckenridge, but for the citizens of the whole county.”
In addition to the new community center, Gibbs also pointed to recent Colorado Department of Transportation grants that committed funds for the Colorado Highway 9 shortcut through Iron Springs and provided the final piece of funding to retrofit the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel with a fire suppression system. Officials also worked with CDOT to cede control of recreation paths on Vail Pass to the county and participated last month in the grand reopening of the east bore of the Twin Tunnels.
“The opening of the east bore was an incredible achievement and it’s amazing to see all of the success we’re having with road projects here and around the state,” Gibbs said. “We’re really happy about the commitment from CDOT on the Iron Springs project and excited to begin working on the realignment.”
Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier focuses the majority of her energy and attention on water issues, and there were significant developments in that arena in 2013, as well.
Notably, she said, was when the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement was finalized in September.
Summit County stands to benefit from the agreement when it receives, in a couple of weeks, two payments of $1 million. One allocation may be used to fund watershed-improvement projects, while the other is designated for water-quality or water-treatment improvements, or both.
Water issues also are top of mind for Stiegelmeier going into 2014 as she plans to be involved in the Colorado Basin Roundtable.
As part of the roundtable, officials residing in drainage basins around the state are preparing draft basin implementation plans aimed at addressing future water needs as the state’s population continues to grow. The implementation plans are being drafted to run through 2050 and are due to Gov. John Hickenlooper by the end of July. The implementation plans would then be combined into a state water plan due to be released before the end of 2014, Stiegelmeier said.
“That’ll be a big deal as it comes together in ’14,” Stiegelmeier said. “No matter what happens, it will have a big impact on the future of Colorado, including how it grows and how it tries to remain sustainable.”
With the first day of 2014 just a few hours away, Gibbs said the county’s New Year’s resolution is to expand on the positive, collaborative work of 2013 by searching for new partnerships inside and outside of the county.
“I feel like the county wants to continue to work in a collaborative way with the towns, nonprofits and other entities, but we’re also looking for ways to work with neighboring counties on regional projects, such as improving the connectivity of our trail systems,” Gibbs said. “Partnerships benefit everyone involved because the more resources you can throw at something, the cheaper it becomes for everybody.”