Smoke from the burning of slash piles may be visible around Summit County in the coming weeks and months as the White River National Forest continues mitigation efforts on the Dillon Ranger District this winter.
Slash piles have been created for burning in areas where other means of disposal such as chipping are not feasible. Most of those areas include fuel reduction projects in the wildland urban interface and at the site of wildlife habitat improvement projects. The reductions help decrease the risk of unwanted wildfire from encroaching on communities while also giving firefighters a chance to combat wildfire and defend nearby homes.
Ideal burning conditions require adequate ventilation or light winds for smoke dispersion, as well as some permanent snow on the ground to keep fire contained to the piles. Though the Forest Service expects this to be a short-term occurrence, prescribed fire smoke may affect your health. Most of the smoke will dissipate during the day, but some nighttime smoke may remain in valley bottoms and drainages.
When conditions warrant, specific locations for pile burning this winter will be:
Spring Creek northwest of Green Mountain Reservoir
The Lake Dillon Theatre Company (LDTC) announces the 2017 theater season, “New Beginnings,” its inaugural season in its new home in Silverthorne. Just as LDTC and the town of Silverthorne have embarked on a new journey together, the stories for 2017 feature characters that are also beginning a new journey in their lives. 2017 season passes and flex passes will be available for purchase in November. Patrons who purchase a season pass in November will receive LDTC’s wine punch card.
The 2017 season includes: “Sister Act” by Bill and Cheri Steinkeller, opening June 23; “Ghost,” by Bruce Joel Robin, opening July 1; “Murder for Two,” by Kinosian and Blair, opening Sept. 1; “Noises Off,” by Michael Frayn, opening Dec. 1.
With LDTC’s expanded performance spaces, it will now offer a new theater series, “The Lab Theatre.” This series will present “Buyer & Cellar” by Jonathan Tolins, opening June 30; “Pretty Fire” by Charlayne Woodard, opening Aug. 11; and “Grounded,” by George Brant, opening Sept. 22.
The Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, the volunteer-based nonprofit lending thousands of hours each year for maintenance and education through the Dillon Ranger Station, recently wrapped another successful summer season of forest stewardship — its biggest to date.
The organization, established in 2005 to assist the local White River National Forest District due to shrinking federal budgets, primarily works on trail projects out in the field during the summer months to improve local pathways for hiking, biking and all-terrain vehicles. It helps assemble clusters of volunteers, at least a third of them youth groups, to go out for workdays. And in 2016, FDRD welcomed a record number of organizations with more than 30 to complete its largest number of summer projects, 62, which entailed nearly 6,000 volunteer hours.
“We’ve really ramped up these projects to reach new people and new demographics who are not familiar with our organization,” said Doozie Martin, FDRD program manager, “to produce the most we can for the management plans of the Forest Service. We provide team-building, and other organizational activities so lots of groups can get involved, and see it as an everybody wins project.”
The organization averaged about 22 people on each project, up three per operation from the prior year. The added labor force helped to accomplish more trail upgrades and rehabilitations throughout the county where they’re needed most. Some of that routine maintenance has also helped from a preventative standpoint to stave off future issues on well-traveled hikes that might force closures once the amount of foot traffic eventually makes them unusable.
“Eleven years ago, they started with four projects and all volunteers,” said Bill Jackson, Dillon District ranger. “They’ve grown and we’ve grown with them, branching out to all sorts of cool projects we really need. It’s a pretty special partnership, and they’re the envy of a lot of my peers out there.”
Because of the surplus of volunteers, FDRD was able to build a combined 3 miles of new trails in Summit, compared to just a half mile in 2015. That was in part because the Forest Service had a new mini-excavator to assist with the job. The majority of that work was done above the county landfill in Dillon on the Tenderfoot Mountain trail, and some of it above Breckenridge on the Golden Horseshoe — both allowing mountain bikes and ATVs.
“We’re all about collaboration across the board,” said Mike Connolly, FDRD’s executive director, “we’re not an advocacy group. It was a good way to bring together two user groups that oftentimes have opposing views for how recreation should go.”
With summer’s work now complete, FDRD is looking forward with aims of expansion and increasing its visibility and level of participation during the winter — a time typically reserved for mostly just planning. Aside from its popular Ski with a Ranger initiative at Breckenridge Ski Resort, Copper Mountain Resort and Keystone Resort (starting around Christmas and running through March), the organization intends to take the downtime to develop further youth and education programming to work with even more adolescents from within and outside the county.
To manage the new endeavor, FDRD has hired Jill Bryant, previously a part-time summer program coordinator, full time. She’ll develop and manage the project, reaching out to area schools and other established groups such as the Girl and Boy Scouts, Summit-Lake Dillon Optimist Club and the like to produce enriching opportunities for environmental education spanning diverse areas including wildlife, forest stewardship and water conservation. That may lead to paid Youth Corps positions for the region’s youth.
As an added component, and as part of FDRD’s larger mission to educate, it hopes to start hosting monthly forums for the general public with partner organizations to bring experts in the field to Summit. Conversations are already underway with Walking Mountain Science Center out of Avon, the Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center in Fairplay and Wild Wings Environmental Education in the Front Range.
The idea is that the added exposure and attention for FDRD could lead to increased volunteer participation after the calendar flips to summer once more. And already groups are booking dates with FDRD for 2017 and the ledgers are filling up.
Other summer programs will of course continue, including the Ranger Patrol volunteer group and the Forest Monitoring program. During 2016, 56 patrollers provided more than 1,000 hours and hiked about 1,300 miles of trails in the county looking for issues like downed trees, illegal campsites and unpredictable wildlife. On the monitoring front, 42 volunteers helped produce valuable data for the Forest Service on tree regeneration, soil types and what’s flourished best in areas of clear-cuts.
FDRD is aware that none of its achievements can happen without the important volunteers who also take pride in the local environment and participate in work for the public good. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization,” said Martin. “While we have a very devoted staff and board, if we didn’t have people who share in our vision and mission, it just wouldn’t work. We’re lucky to be in a community where people value their public lands like we do as an organization. We all recreate in the forest, one way or another, and we’re encouraged by the number of people willing to give back and help us try to keep things on the up-and-up for future generations.”
During the first Gold Rush of 1859, Breckenridge was bustling with activity as miners flocked to the town in search of riches. Saloons lined the streets, ladies of the night attended to lonely men, merchants strolled into town to earn a living off the miners, and structures progressed from tents and shacks to log buildings.
As a desolate Breckenridge saw its revival during the second rush in the 1880s when silver was added to the mix, the area shifted from its wild existence into a more “respectable” town as Victorian ladies and gentlemen moved in.
Although the new residents built Victorian homes and updated buildings lining Main Street, life still wasn’t easy in a mountain town at 9,000 feet. Breckenridge’s past is lined with hardships, drinking, prostitutes and murders — stories that took place in some of the same buildings that now bustle with ski traffic today. In some cases, rumor has it that residents of those buildings who met tragic ends may never have left.
THE GOLD PAN
Breckenridge’s oldest saloon, which is rumored to have the longest-standing continuous liquor license west of the Mississippi, is now called The Gold Pan Saloon and sits in a prime location on Main Street. Ski resort employees make it a nightly hang out, and brides- and grooms-to-be frequently bring their parties to the bar.
But in the days before bands took the stage and smoke came pouring out of the rear end of a deer hanging on the wall, The Gold Pan saw just as many wild times.
The Saloon started off as a tent in 1861, like many structures of its time, and a more permanent structure was built in 1879. In 1905, another building was added to the saloon, offering a bar on one side and bowling on the other. The Gold Pan outlasted Prohibition, serving moonshine in a back room that had to be accessed through an underground tunnel. It even hosted the last gunfight recorded in the town a few years after the ski resort was built.
With such a long history in Breckenridge, the ghostly activity felt nowadays could be miners, although it has been said that male occupants of the upstairs apartments have felt a woman’s presence.
The current owners, Megan and Chris Stromberg, have experienced things they can’t explain. Regularly, almost daily, a door upstairs in their office building will open once, maybe twice a day. A couple months ago, Megan was in the bar area decorating for a party early in the morning, and she felt something brush against her body.
“I instantly dropped the balloons and ran upstairs to tell Chris,” she said.
Megan said Chris isn’t usually the one to get scared, but he has one instance that sent him immediately out of the building. It was after hours, and he was finishing up some rebuilds on their music stage, and all of a sudden the music cut out on his phone. Immediately, it got really cold and the lights flickered.
“I put down my power tools and was like, ‘OK, that’s it, I’m going home and locking up,’” he said. The music came back right when he walked out the door.
A paranormal specialist came to the bar in June, recording activity in both the office upstairs and in the storeroom downstairs, where the tunnels used to be, Megan said.
The leading lady in the tales of the building that now houses Après Handcrafted Libations on Main Street is always described as a very tidy ghost. Built in the 1880s, the building was originally a boarding house. A room was usually kept for widows, and it was hoped that these women would find new husbands in the house to take care of them rather than having to resort to working in the red light districts, said Gail Westwood, author of “Haunted Breckenridge” and co-owner of Breckenridge Tours. Sylvia’s tale is one that Westwood presents on Ghostly Tales, one of a variety of tours offered by the company.
It was here that Sylvia moved in search of a new husband, but caught one of the epidemics at the time and passed shortly after contracting the disease.
For over three decades, the building was a restaurant known as the Prospector, and an apartment housed tenants upstairs. There are many stories of Sylvia sightings, Westwood said, with female tenants saying she loved to clean up and even fold laundry. If dirty dishes were left in the sink, the faucets would be running when the resident returned home.
“She would appear at night, not to be seen, but to feel her. … They could feel a weight on top of them,” Westwood said.
Downstairs, it’s said that she rearranges kitchen items, and one bartender reported feeling a force take over her mop.
“I call her the most prolific ghost … because there have been more sightings with her, more experiences with her in that building than anywhere else,” Westwood said.
Katie Briggle was one of Breckenridge’s well-known socialites. Arriving with her husband William in 1896, the pair soon outgrew their two-room cabin, adding to the Victorian-style home several times until it was the size seen today. Katie taught music lessons in the home and hosted many parties.
“She held the finest dinner parties — musical events for 60 to 70 people at a time,” Westwood said. “Whatever clothes she wore, the other women would follow, whatever dinner she served everybody would start cooking, whatever entertainment, decorations she put up, they would all follow. In other words, back in the 1900s you would be following Katie on Twitter, she’d be the one that would be trending.”
In 1924, William passed away of a heart attack and soon after that Katie left the home, living in Denver until she died. Westwood believes she returned to her beloved home after her passing.
June Walters, a current tour guide for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance (BHA), which hosts tours through the home, said parties hosted by the Briggles were often written about in the Summit County Journal the next day. Musically talented, Katie would often hold recitals at her house, playing several instruments herself. She held card parties, bridal showers and meetings.
“It is a beautiful example of Victorian, period-correct local décor,” Walters said of the home. “It is a beautiful display of how the 1 percent in Breckenridge lived and entertained, and kept themselves warm, and enjoyed a Victorian lifestyle.”
Walters has also possibly had a few run-ins with Katie. Walters started with the BHA 20-some years ago, but left for about 18 years before returning to again lead tours. On her first outing through the home upon her return, she heard beautiful chamber music. Afterwards, she asked the BHA manager if it had been a recording of the National Repertory Orchestra.
“She said, ‘What music?’ I said, ‘the music that comes on when you walk into the parlor,’” Walters said. “She said, ‘There are no speakers, there’s no audio equipment, there’s no way for music to play.’ I thought that was really interesting. If there is a spirit, an entity, a ghost, whatever you want to call it, if there is one there, I’d like to think he or she was welcoming me back to the fold.”
During a paranormal investigation, done often in the home, Walters took several photos in one corner of a room. Later, in one of the photos, she found what looked like a moving orb.
Westwood has had several experiences with what she believes is Katie. When she started going through the home as a walking tour guide, she had a very unusual experience after she started. A guest on the tour, who Westwood described as sensitive, pulled her back right before she walked into Katie’s bedroom, telling her she couldn’t go in because Katie was in there. The woman described her, and answered a few of the questions Westwood posed to Katie, giving her Katie’s answer.
Once, a psychic friend told Westwood that Katie was standing behind her and tapping her on the shoulder. Another physical instance Westwood attributes to Katie is the time she and another tour guide found a big red stain on the carpet after an event on a cream-colored rug, and left with the intention of cleaning it the next morning.
“When we arrived the following morning and opened the door, there was the rug, perfectly clean, not a stain on it,” she said.
One day a teacake went missing, and Westwood found it under Katie’s bed. When Westwood left some dishes behind in the sink, the next day a can flew off a top shelf and landed at her feet.
“I suddenly said, ‘OK, this is for real,’” she said. “After that started to happen, whenever I would go in I would open the door and say, ‘Good morning Katie, good afternoon Katie, how are you today?’ I would acknowledge her and say, ‘It’s just Gail and I won’t be here long. … When I would leave, I would say, ‘Thank you Katie, and goodbye.’ I don’t know if I sounded crazy, but to me it was the most respectful thing to do.”
On Oct. 25, the Breckenridge Town Council took an in-depth look at the 2017 budget during a special meeting.
Despite continuing increases in sales-tax revenue, Brian Waldes, the director of finance and information technology for the town, said that the budget does not increase at the same rate. He added that the budget is done conservatively because there is no telling when that revenue will dry up.
Both the expenditures and revenue will go up for the town. The 2017 budget will see some new revenue from the lift-ticket tax, as well as projected revenue if ballot measure 5A passes. The measure would add as much as $2.2 million into the town’s affordable housing fund.
The two new streams of revenue bump the town up slightly from last year. Revenue for 2016 is estimated to close at $67.6 million. Sales tax amounts to 33 percent of 2016’s estimated revenue. Proposed revenue for 2017 is $79.48 million.
“We’ve taken what we’re estimating we’re actually going to receive in 2016, which is higher than we budgeted for 2016, and then we add 1 percent to that assuming there’s going to be some growth, and that’s a formula we’ve used for many years. It’s very conservative, but it’s served us well,” Waldes said.
The original proposal had an additional stream of revenue coming from loans to help the town build large projects such as a water treatment plant.
However, at the meeting, the council decided to continue the discussion on the water plant, and has not approved that portion of the budget. Council members were concerned that the plan would cost the town $53 million, a large increase from when it was previously proposed at $30 million. The council will discuss getting a third party to look at the plan for a cost analysis, as well as seeing if there are other options to bring more water to the town.
Removing the water treatment plan from the budget also decreased proposed expenditures. This year’s expenditures are expected to close at a little over $74 million, while proposed 2017 expenditures bumped up to over $79 million. Some of the increase comes from the plan to improve the recreation center in Breckenridge over the next two years. This plan had been previously approved by the council.
Town council also had additional questions over the workforce housing plan presented in the budget. The concern was mostly around Denison 1, a housing project expected to break ground in the spring of 2017. The current plan is to build 16 units of about 900-1,000 square feet in size.
Mayor Eric Mamula voiced his concern that the cost per square foot was higher than it would be in other places in the county. Several council members also wondered what the demand for units was within the town. The council opted to wait on approving the workforce housing section of the budget in order to continue the discussion.
The parking and transportation fund will see a projected increase in revenue from the new paid-parking plan that was implemented recently by the town council. The budget is estimating $1,075,000 to come in from parking fees. Revenue from this fund is going into hiring seasonal transit drivers for the town. The town will also dedicate $3.125 million into various parking and transportation program improvements.
The marijuana fund is another category of the budget that will be seeing an increase, albeit a less predictable one. Waldes said at the meeting that he is still unsure why marijuana sales have done so well in the town this year, as the stores have not done much to adjust their pricing. Estimated tax revenue from both medicinal and recreational marijuana is more than $173,000 over what was budgeted for 2016. Marijuana revenue is also less restrictive than some of the other revenue streams coming into the town. For the 2017 budget, a portion of marijuana revenue will go toward hiring a new police officer. The surplus revenue will go into the child care fund.
Pending changes and further discussion on the water plant and workforce housing plan, town manager Rick Holman said that the budget will be presented as a resolution at the Nov. 22 town council meeting
For now, local resorts are on hold before Loveland announces an opening day and Keystone’s lifts start spinning on Nov. 4. Here’s a look at what to expect from terrain, chairlifts, base amenities and more this November.
LOVELAND SKI AREA | EARLY NOVEMBER
Mother Nature hasn’t been kind to Loveland. She hasn’t been kind to anyone in the local ski industry, but the recent rash of warm and sunny days has put a big damper on the ski area’s snowmaking operations. After the first true snowfall on Oct. 19, officials expected to open sometime this week with at least another day or two of natural snowfall.
Instead, officials confirmed on Tuesday that the ski area won’t open until the first week in November. But it’ll be worth the wait: opening day brings top-to-bottom service on Lift 1. That means more than a mile of skiing (and 1,000 vertical feet!) on Catwalk, Mambo and Home Run, with a base of at least 18 inches from tree to tree.
Keep an eye on the Loveland conditions website for more info on conditions and snowfall. Chances are the ski area won’t announce its opening date until one or two days before, marketing director John Sellers said.
KEYSTONE RESORT | NOV. 4
Keystone is taking a page from the once-in-a-century World Series matchup and throwing skiers a curveball. For the past decade or so, opening day has looked the same: snowmaking on the easternmost Spring Dipper trail, with lift access from the River Run Gondola and Montezuma Express.
This season on Nov. 4, snowmakers will instead open the west side of the mountain — Schoolmarm and Silver Spoon — with lift access on the same chairs, beginning at 9 a.m. The hope is to give early-season skiers more variety (aka gentler slopes) before storms boost snowpack on the manmade snow, according to the resort.
The new plan also changes early-season terrain park access. Rather than build a temporary park under the Ranger Lift, the park crew will open a small batch of rails on the stretch between Silver Spoon and the entrance to A51 terrain park. This should help park crew get the full-sized park up and running earlier, officials said.
The day continues with apres music, beer specials and giveaways at Endo’s in Center Village from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., followed by the Welcome Home Party at Jack’s Bar and Grill at 1:30 p.m.
The party carries over to Nov. 12 with a cornhole tournament, music and more at Copper Apres from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Prizes for the tourney include Copper four packs, gift cards and Under Armour gear. Woodward Copper finishes the day with the Woodward Barn Bash from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., featuring free (yes, free) two-hour intro session, live music, pro demos and hip-hop from Denver’s Down2Funk at 5:30 p.m. The new Union Bindings and Videograss videos premiere for free at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday wraps things up with (what else?) a Broncos Watch Party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Jack’s Bar and Endo’s. Both have drink and food specials, giveaways and more.
Those bare slopes at Peak 8 and Peak 9 mean the snowmaking crew hasn’t confirmed terrain or chairlifts for opening day, but chances are crowds will load Colorado Superchair at Peak 8, with riding on Springmeier, Powerline and maybe Four O’Clock to Lower Four O’Clock into town — those runs are the standards for opening day. Still no word on Park Lane or the Freeway jumps and superpipe, but the bones of all three are starting to take form.
The Silverthorne Town Council will meet on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. The council will do a first reading on an ordinance allowing grocery and drugstores to have a liquor license. They will also do a first reading of the 2017 budget for Silverthorne.
The council had the retreat meeting for the budget back in July. The town planned the budgets for 2017 and 2018, but will only approve the one for next year.
Silverthorne has been conservative when planning the budget.
They budgeted a 2 percent sales tax increase for 2017, despite a 7.6 percent average increase in sales tax revenue for the past three years.
The council meeting will include an executive session discussing Smith Ranch.
On Oct. 22, 1947 Bill Thomas Jr. wrote about a snowy day that kept him inside for most of the day.
Fast forward to Oct. 22, 2016 and the people attending the walking tour of Bill’s Ranch couldn’t have asked for sunnier weather.
The Frisco Historic Museum and Park organizes tours of the land granted to the Thomas family in 1910, where the family began to operate a dairy ranch.
A NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY
In 1930, the town of Frisco only had 18 people and the Thomas family created a plan to bring people to the town by offering free land: The first 10 people to respond to an open call for residents could take some of the 147.5 acres given to Bill’s mother, Jane Thomas, in a Deed of Trust.
The process was slow, but eventually people began to respond and build cabins — some of the cabins still stand today and are part of the walking tour.
But many of the historic cabins that were built were taken down. Some of the structures were moved to the historic park in Frisco, others were repurposed or used in construction by the new property owners.
Jana Miller, the tour’s guide and coordinator for the museum, said that the organization largely depends on community members to preserve the cabins.
“You are really dependant upon the good faith of the people who live here and own the places,” she said.
She added that the cabins are not legally considered historic landmarks. The town has to work with the county to get that designation and the rules surrounding which buildings can be protected makes the issue very complicated.
Miller owns the Maddy Cabin, which was the first stop on the tour. For her, the purchase meant saving a piece of history, something that gave her a leg up with the cabin’s previous owners.
Other stops on the tour have similar stories. The Fiester property was bought by a couple that wanted to preserve it. The cabin was referred to as “Look-up Lodge” because of the mountain views behind it.
When Jane Thomas and her husband Bill first came to Frisco in the late 1800s they purchased the Leyner House Hotel. Bill Thomas Sr. died in 1900, but Jane Thomas continued to run the hotel until 1931. The structure was later dismantled and moved to the ranch site, where Ben Little, who plays Bill Thomas for a brief section of the tour, helped reconstruct the building and created an addition. He and his brother, Jim Little, have been working to help save other historic cabins that were part of the ranch, including the Olson Cabin, which is also on his property.
Miller said that one of the biggest problems in preserving the cabins is that there is no way to track when they go for sale. While some property owners — including some owners from the families that originally built the cabins — have kept the original structures in good condition, new owners may not do the same.
Miller said that one family has been working with the museum to move the cabin off their property before they sell the land it’s on. The cabin will move to the park in Frisco along with the original ranch house and the Niemoth Cabin, which were previously moved to the park — the ranch house was moved in the ’80s and the Niemoth Cabin was moved in 1995.
“If we move the buildings there, they’re at least protected,” Miller said.
One of the last stops on the tour is the Posey Cabin. Margaret Posey’s father bought the land from Bill Thomas in the late ’40s. Because the community knows Posey cares about the ranch’s history, she has inherited various pieces such as cattle brands, a water wheel, Bill Thomas Sr.’s mother’s Bible and even Bill Thomas Jr.’s diary. She has kept the wood-burning stove originally put in the cabin and still cooks on it.
The Breckenridge Town Council will have a special retreat meeting on Oct. 25 to go over the proposed budget for 2017. The meeting will start at noon in the Town Hall Auditorium and is open to the public.
The budget estimates a rise in both revenue and expenditures for the town. Part of the rise in revenue is because the budget currently includes money coming in from ballot measure 5A, which will change depending on the voter outcome in November. The proposed budget was sent out to email subscribers by the town earlier this week.
The finalized budget will be brought forth as a resolution in the Nov. 22 town council meeting.
The council’s regularly scheduled meeting will begin after the retreat at 7 p.m.
The agendas and packets for both the budget and regular meetings can be found on the town of Breckenridge’s website.
After the citizen’s comment section of the regular meeting, the council will discuss the Police Department Lifesaving Award. The council will also do a second reading on municipal offenses concerning marijuana.
The master plan was originally scheduled for completion by the end of September, following the county’s last open house event on Sept. 7. County government chose to delay that release though, after the town of Frisco decided to host its own citizen meeting on Sept. 28 to address potential concerns from the housing expansion. The idea was to include those comments into the ultimate design recommendations.
Questions about added traffic congestion, trail connectivity, as well as potential water and sanitation impacts, were part of those discussions in Frisco. Early conversations between the county and the town located just south of the 45-acre parcel suggested plenty of capacity to service both the eventual development on top of current and future needs. But more questions have arisen as the project’s parameters have become clearer.
“There are some infrastructural issues there that do need to be resolved,” Don Reimer, Summit County planning director, explained to the county commissioners. “I think it’s a positive conversation. I don’t think that anybody’s saying we can’t do this or whatever else. They do want to make sure that they can accommodate all of their existing lands within the county as well.”
Talk of a potential Frisco annexation of the county parcel remains on the back burner at the moment. As town council considers Frisco’s long-term plan, however, which could include some redevelopment ventures — possibly increasing density by converting some single-family dwellings into multi-family units — it will want to ensure the town is prepared and secure.
“They’re just trying to do their due diligence,” said county manager Scott Vargo, “to make sure that they have a comfort level of what their community build-out looks like and then what this project looks like in addition to it.”
Nothing is set in stone at this point regarding gas or power lines, both of which already exist on the property. But preliminary discussions with Xcel Energy have resulted in the county’s understanding they can simply tap into both. Establishment of a regulating station will be necessary for gas, and the intent is to pull the power lines presently overhead underground ahead of any vertical construction.
To keep costs down, the property will ideally tie into both Frisco’s wastewater and drinking water lines, using the Frisco Sanitation District’s mains. The water tank located just east of the former U.S. Forest Service land also makes sense to use, though alternatives will remain available should Frisco eventually decide it doesn’t wish to offer up the essential resource.
Aside from infrastructural logistics, which for now is scheduled for 2017, Reimer confirmed a strategy of phased development once financing is established down the road. The 436 total units for Lake Hill as outlined in the master plan — containing a mixture of ownership between single-family, duplexes and townhomes, in addition to several multi-family complexes — would not be finished for about a decade. The first phase, projected to begin in 2018 with completion in 2022-23, would include 193 units — 21 single-family homes, 37 duplexes and 135 multi-family rentals.
Those targets are still subject to change as the master plan heads toward completion. If, say, the desire for ownership as opposed to rental properties spikes, or the community experiences a market downturn like that of 2009, then the proposal is flexible and can be adjusted.
“The first phase is pretty much set,” said Reimer. “We feel comfortable with what we can fit on the site, the number and breakdown of units, two parking spaces per, and the amount of open space we want to have. But this is a plan and plans do change, even if this is the guideline and roadmap for what we want the project to look like at this moment in time.”
A meeting between county staff and a stakeholder group is scheduled for early November to iron out other details. From there, the county commissioners are planning to meet with the Frisco town council in the middle of November to work together to settle on a final game plan.
“I do like the idea of a joint meeting with the town council to take a look at where we’re at and what do we think that we can in partnership do next,” said Commissioner Thomas Davidson. “We also have to continue to think about and identify other sites, and we have to make sure that we don’t drop the ball. So, lots to do.”
Starting Dec. 1 of this year, Breckenridge will implement paid parking on Main Street.
An hourly rate for the spots has yet to be determined, but Shannon Haynes, assistant town manager of Breckenridge, said that the council will be deciding that point during its budget retreat meeting on Oct. 25.
Some of the construction to put in the new parking stations has already begun. Haynes said that on Oct. 17 crews began the process of pouring concrete to make the base for the new machines.
The town will be replacing all paid parking machines throughout Breckenridge to make sure everything is on the same system. Pay stations in parking lots will be placed earlier so that they can be active by the start of the ski season. The town will also need to remove all of its current parking signage from Main Street before the new fixtures are installed.
Paid parking will be along most of Main Street, as well as Ridge Street, but will skip the South 300 block by the post office, Haynes said. The side streets that have parking spots between Ridge and Main Street will also switch to paid parking. People will need to pay for parking in these spots between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
CHANGE OF HABIT
While spots do not currently have a time limit, Haynes said that the amount people pay for parking increases the longer they stay in the spot.
“We want to discourage people from parking on Main Street to go skiing,” said the Mayor of Breckenridge, Eric Mamula. “It will be more expensive to park on Main Street to ski than it will be to park in the Gondola Lots.”
Mamula wanted to stress that the new paid parking system is not meant to be a revenue generator for the town.
“This is meant to influence behavior, and the town will set the price based on occupancy rates in the area that we have paid parking,” he said.
He added that although the town council is setting a rate at its next meeting, officials will look at it again four to six weeks after the program starts to see if improvements can be made as far as cost or time the spots are available.
GETTING A SECOND OPINION
Haynes worked with a transportation and parking task force for the town to implement strategies in the hopes of alleviating congestion. Paid parking, as well as other recent improvements to transit, are all recommendations from a study that was done by traffic consultant firm NelsonNygaard.
The firm was originally hired after a proposal in the summer of 2015 from the town to build a parking garage at the F Lot. Many members of the community voiced concerns about the garage, particularly that it would not help with traffic congestion. Once hired, NelsonNygaard’s study confirmed this.
The town has also made some accommodations for employees working in Breckenridge, such as improvements to public transit. The Ice Rink Lot will be free for anyone to park in during the day. The Satellite Lot will have 300 spaces designated for employee and overnight parking. Employees will need to get a free permit from the town to use the spaces. There will be no change in several of the lots in town that have been paid parking during the day, but free after 3 p.m.
“(This) also provides this opportunity for employees who work at night to have a place that is close to town that they can walk to and feel safe,” Haynes said.
Kim Dykstra, director of communications for the town, said that there will be a merchant validation program put into place and the town will work with business owners on how to use it.
PARKING GARAGE CONFLICT
While a parking garage has not been entirely taken off the town’s wish list, it has dropped on the list of priorities. This caused a rift between the town and Breckenridge Ski Resort, whose COO, John Buhler, wrote a scathing letter to the Daily on Sept. 25 suggesting the town was backing down from its promise to build the garage.
Mamula said that his biggest concern with the parking garage is that it is a costly solution, and one that can’t be adjusted once it’s been put into place. He said he would prefer to work out the all kinks before investing in a garage.
“You build a parking structure in the wrong place, (then) you’ve got a $50 million parking structure in the wrong place and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said.
IMPACT ON LOCALS
Local shop owners in Breckenridge were also wondering about the current status of the parking garage. Charity Mersereau, who has worked at Magical Scraps and Boutique on Main Street for nearly two years, said that while she was originally opting for the garage, she thought paid parking was also a good solution.
“You can’t park in Vail or Aspen or anywhere else for free,” she said.
Michael Jackman, who has owned the Breck Hat Co for more than 20 years, said he was “neutral” about the new paid parking and wondered if it would make a large difference since most of the spots on Main Street already have a three-hour maximum time limit. One of his concerns was whether the new spots would prevent him from being able to park in front of his shop temporarily in order to bring in merchandise.
His employee, Brad Bushey, on the other hand, was worried about the cost for locals and whether or not he would have to park further away from work in order to avoid added spending.
Sam Fredericks, an employee at the Global Candle Gallery, said she just avoids driving to work in general because of the parking issues. She uses public transit instead.
“Parking is annoying already, and I don’t think having (paid parking) will make much difference,” she said.
She added that she hopes the paid parking will help prevent tourists from staying in one spot for long periods of time.
THE FUTURE OF PARKING IN BRECK
Paid parking is just the start of a plan from the town in lessening parking and traffic woes throughout Breckenridge. Haynes said the town will have community meetings before paid parking is implemented to show people how the new machines will work.
There is also an app, PassportParking Mobile Pay, that goes with the machines. The app allows people to pay with their phone, and make adjustments to their parking time slot. It will all be done by inputting the license plate number of the car. Haynes is also working to put together videos to demonstrate the new process. Both Mamula and Haynes said that while the change will be difficult for locals, they are hoping the town can make the transition as easy as possible.
“The paid parking thing, while I know it will be painful, was the single biggest thing that the consultants said, ‘You need to do this, this will make more difference than anything else you can do,’” Mamula said.