Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Independence Pass closed Monday night because of weather, and it may not reopen this season

#Colorado
Summit Daily News Photo

Summit Daily News Link


Independence Pass closed 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30 because of weather and could remain closed for the rest of the fall and winter, Colorado transportation officials announced Monday afternoon.
Crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation sent out a statement just before 3 p.m. Monday announcing the gate closure on Highway 82, which took place at 7 p.m. on both the Pitkin County and Lake County sides of the pass.
CDOT officials previously had announced plans to keep Independence Pass open as long as possible this fall because of traffic backups associated with the Grand Avenue Bridge closure in Glenwood Springs.
Crews have been plowing the highway — which goes over the 12,095 foot Continental Divide — in an effort to keep it open, the statement says. However, inclement weather forecast for the higher elevations led to the decision to close the road.
"CDOT will continue to monitor the weather through next week to determine if the pass can be reopened," the statement says.
It is the earliest Independence Pass closure since at least 2011, when it closed Nov. 2, according to the CDOT statement. The latest the pass closed since 2011 was Nov. 17 in 2016.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Interstate 70 closures at exit 205 in Silverthorne a ‘highly dangerous ballet’

#Silverthorne #Colorado
Summit Daily Photo

Summit Daily News Link


In the winter, when Interstate 70 shuts down at exit 205 due to car crashes or a deluge of snow, Silverthorne police chief John Minor gives his officers the same piece of advice: "You better have your head on a swivel and your head in the game, because it's about to get a little sporty."
For the officers and state patrollers who ride herd over the chaotic cattle drive of cars and semis during an interstate evacuation, being on high alert means the difference between life and death.
"If you're actually on the interstate staffing that closure just before the bridge," Minor said, "it's probably one of the most dangerous things you'll ever do in your life."
Stationed on icy, wind-chilled roadway, officers do their best not to get run over or freeze their toes off as they corral traffic down into town, making way for tow trucks and the Colorado Department of Transportation's fleet of plows and sanders.
“It is a challenge and we can unfortunately have complete gridlock in our community no matter how hard we try.”John MinorSilverthorne police chief
Minor likened it to a "highly dangerous ballet."
However, that dance often grinds to a halt once vehicles reach the towns below. While officers stack semis along the sides of the interstate, confused and cranky motorists flood into the interchange connecting Silverthorne and Dillon.
'BEYOND THAT, IT STINKS'
These highway evacuees make their way down the exit ramp, where officers in the right and left turn lanes wait to welcome them into town. Minor said many drivers take the time to roll down the window to ask the same question: "When is the interstate going to reopen?"
Officers do their best to answer inquiries while funneling the cars away from the exit. Some people go shopping or to a restaurant. Some camp out at nearby parking lot. Some get a hotel room. Some just illegally park along the highways, hoping to be the first to get back on the interstate when it reopens.
Things can break down quickly, with traffic sometimes backing up all the way past Swan Mountain Road at Highway 6 and into northernmost Silverthorne on Highway 9.
"It is a challenge and we can unfortunately have complete gridlock in our community no matter how hard we try," Minor said. "Every situation is slightly different. Part of it is timing. If it's at 5 p.m. or 4 p.m., and the ski areas are getting out, it may get away from you. You can deal with absolute chaos for a couple off hours, but beyond that, it stinks."
Each year, as traffic volume on the I-70 mountain corridor increases, the scope of the problem seems to grow more unwieldy. And CDOT and Summit County have been scrambling for answers.
Since last winter, CDOT has changed its tactics when it comes to closures. Instead of just reacting to accidents, pile-ups and rollovers, the department is staging so-called "safety closures" when the weather turns hairy.
As a result, the number of closures spiked by 42 percent this past winter, going from roughly 300 closures between Golden and Vail to 500 during the 2016-2017 season. However, the total duration of closure time has dropped by 31 percent thanks to these preemptive closures. Ultimately, that's a win for motorists and for towns like Silverthorne and Dillon.
At a recent meeting between Summit County and CDOT in Breckenridge, Tom Gosiorowski, the county's public works director, pointed out that CDOT has an effective and fine-tuned plan when it comes to getting cars off the interstate, but not necessarily when it comes to minimizing and managing the impacts on secondary highway systems.
Beyond the general disruption of gridlock, there are serious public safety concerns at play. A closure-related traffic jam along Summit highways can make it difficult for ambulances or fire trucks to respond to emergencies, for example.
Patrick Chavez, CDOT's operations manager for the I-70 mountain corridor, said the state agency is striving to do a better job in coordinating closure efforts with the towns that are adversely affected by them.
"We're really looking at working with communities to find where to put those vehicles," he said at the Breckenridge meeting.
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
Ultimately, communication is the key to ensuring these closures run smoothly.
CDOT is in constant radio contact with the towns and the county when it comes to I-70. However, getting the word out to drivers hasn't always been as easy. Unless they have CDOT's phone app or check its social media feeds, pay close attention to roadside message boards or visit the town of Silverthorne's website, motorists may not know exactly where to go to wait out the closures or when start their drive back home.
That could soon change. The county and CDOT are both testing out communications systems that can target cellphones in specific geographic areas. That means sending custom messages to motorists on where to park during a closure, for example.
Additionally, Minor said the town of Silverthorne has implemented some small changes to better manage these events. Just recently, the town has stationed cone boxes at the 205 interchange, so that officers can immediately begin routing traffic flows off the interstate. Officers will also hand out informational fliers to motorists during closures.
Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson suggested closing Highway 6 near Keystone as one possible measure to ease I-70 closure snarls. He said that could help prevent resort traffic from compounding the mess. The resort often suggests that guests hang tight in the event of an interstate shutdown, but that hasn't always proven effective.
Minor said he's had some preliminary conversations with area officials about closing Highway 6 to reduce the traffic impacts during an I-70 shutdown. However, he believes such a measure would have unwanted consequences. A Keystone resident might, for example, find herself stuck when she's simply trying to get to Summit Cove to pick up her child from school.
"For every solution you sometimes have to be aware you might be creating another problem," Minor said.
ROAD WORK TO BE DONE
Steadily increasing volumes of traffic coursing through the mountains is a stress test for the roads and bridges that connect Summit County. To fully address closure impacts on Silverthorne and Dillon, Minor said CDOT will eventually have to revamp the 205 interchange.
"At the end of the day, we have 2017 traffic on 1970s infrastructure," he said.
CDOT has exit 205 on its radar, but improvements — such as the construction of an eastbound auxiliary lane from Frisco to Silverthorne and an overhaul of the interchange itself — will prove expensive. Current estimates have such projects totaling to more than $40 million. That money likely would come from the $2 billion in funds authorized under Senate Bill 17-267, which passed during the last legislative session and seeks to update infrastructure in the state's rural areas.
"We can't kid ourselves there," Minor said. "Someone is going to have to bite the bullet and get that done."

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Report suggests buyers targeting luxury homes in Summit County ahead of ski season

#Summit County #Colorado
Summit Daily News Photo

Summit Daily News Link


Summit County saw 250 real estate transactions in September for more than $155 million combined, and the average price of those sales was just over $622,000, according to a monthly sales report released by the county assessor's office.
Altogether, 35 of those September transactions were for properties that sold at $1 million or more, which is slightly ahead of 30 properties sold with price tags of $1 million or more in the same month last year.
According to Summit Daily archives, the total volume of September sales was a tick off the $159 million from September 2015 and more than $20 million behind September 2016, which saw combined sales of $175 million.
For much of the country, cooler weather can mean the slowest time of year for real estate sales, with many homebuyers being forced into the market in the fall and winter by major life changes, such as a new job.
In Summit County, however, the market didn't dip significantly last year until after Christmas before picking up again in the springtime and cruising through a record-setting summer. A recent market report prepared by Liv Sotheby's, one of the largest local real-estate firms, suggests that many of the late-summer and fall purchases could have been fueled by homebuyers' desire to purchase luxury homes ahead of the 2017-18 ski season, which for Breckenridge Ski Resort, Keystone Resort and Copper Mountain Resort is expected to open on Nov. 10.
As a result, 32 of the 35 $1 million-plus estate transactions in Summit County last September involved luxury homes, defined as the sale of a home at or above $1 million, according to Liv Sotheby's report focused on the luxury housing market in Summit County.
The report continues by saying the number of luxury homes sold in the county's resort communities — including Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper — has increased year-over-year by a whopping 41 percent, with buyers closing on 314 luxury homes from October 2016 to September 2017, compared to 222 in the same timeframe the prior year. Beyond that, the overall number of listings in the luxury market was down 3 percent and there were 42 percent fewer new listings this year compared to the previous year.
Still, the average listing price of a luxury home in Summit County — about $1.5 million — remained almost unchanged from 2016, and total sales volume in Summit County's luxury housing market was up 42 percent compared to last year, according to the report.
SEPTEMBER BY THE NUMBERS
250: Total real estate sales
306: Total real estate sales (2016)
$155.6 million: Total value of sales
$175.7 million: Total value of sales (2016)
$4.5 million: Most expensive sale
$9.25 million: Most expensive sale (2016)
35: Sales of at least $1 million
30: Sales of at least $1 million (2016)
TOP 5 SALES: SEPTEMBER
1. $4,508,500 — Lot 14R, Silverthorne (mixed-use land)
2. $2,212,000 — Lot 18 Columbia Lode, Breckenridge (residential home)
3. $2,200,000 — Lot 3 Highlands at Breckenridge (residential home)
4. $2,175,000 — Lot 199 Highlands at Breckenridge (residential home)
5. $1,825,000 — Lot 20 Summit Estates, Breckenridge (residential home)
Source: Summit County Assessor

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Futuristic technology being used in Vail Resorts’ war on lift lines

# Vail #Colorado
Vail Daily


Summit Daily News Link

It seems like there’s never a lift line at Chair 10. But every once and a while you’ll ski down Highline or Blue Ox and find there is indeed a wait to board the lift. Sometimes the reason is obvious, but other times it’s a complete mystery. Could the date and time provide the answer?
With an eye toward the future and the modern practices of data collection we’re now able to obtain, Vail Resorts this year will unveil EpicMix Time Insights, a mobile and desktop app which will allow you to view lift line wait times for each day of the 2016-17 winter season. Daily snowfall totals will also be among the Insights, allowing you to view how snowfall, holidays and the weekend vs. weekday dynamic affects each part of the mountain when it comes to traffic. It’s the next step in a process that began in the 2015-16 winter season, when the EpicMix Time app started providing lift wait time data in real time.
The system works by analyzing signals emitted by guests’ mobile devices as they cue up for a lift, said Robert Urwiler, chief information officer for Vail Resorts.
“Sensors were installed around strategic points around each lift loading area that gather anonymous device probe data and transmit them to a cloud-based database for analytics,” Urwiler said.
This year, cross examining information will be interesting. Five or 10 years from now, it could prove to be downright vital when it comes to mapping your route around Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Park City.
“(EpicMix Time Insights) is of significant benefit to our guests who are looking to find the best time to start their day, break for lunch, opt for a different chairlift with a shorter line or even to select the ideal vacation dates,” Urwiler said.
MOniTORING THE MOUNTAIN
On a mountain as big as Vail, guests are frequently finding themselves miles away from, say, an upcoming dinner reservation. In a comic juxtaposition, often times their servers are also out there on the slopes, looking for the fastest route to get down the mountain, make it to work on time and not get their passes pulled in the process.
Aaron Nagel, Marketing Manager for EpicMix and bona fide tech guy, is more than a little excited about how EpicMix Time Insights can help those skiers and snowboarders better meet their schedules. The aim is to provide services such as those now used by motorists on their daily commutes.
“(Insights will be) very similar to how Google Maps tracks your time home and how (that service) can tell you there’s a better route,” Nagel said.
NEW FRONT IN THE FIGHT
The big picture for Vail Resorts, however, is about much more than helping the bus boy make it into work on time. The war the company has waged on lift lines is now being fought on multiple fronts, with hardware and software both being used as important weapons.
Along the hardware lines, the tactic is obvious — in the last five years the company has upgraded 17 lifts across its western destination mountain resorts. The slow moving, fixed-grip lift is now a fossil at Vail, as every chair on the mountain now detaches onto a fast moving cable for maximum efficiency.
The software front is a more behind-the-scenes battle, however, and the company is hoping for a technological super soldier of sorts with EpicMix Time Insights.
“EpicMix Time data we collect helps us to identify additional pinch points, and where to invest next,” Urwiler said.
Guests can access Insights on their desktop or mobile device at http://www.time.epicmix.com. To learn more about EpicMix or the EpicMix Time app, visit http://www.epicmix.com.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Breckenridge OKs $59 million loan for second water-treatment plant

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link


Breckenridge Town Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance Tuesday night authorizing a $59 million loan for a new water-treatment plant, but the only emergency was that town staff wanted to lock in a low interest rate.
Emergency ordinances require five affirmative votes to pass, instead of a simple majority, and they take effect immediately. On the other hand, standard town ordinances require passage on two different readings at separate council meetings and don't go into effect for 30 days.
Breckenridge Town Council meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month, and so authorizing the loan as an emergency ordinance Tuesday effectively saved town staff at least a month and a half they'd otherwise have to wait had council passed it as an ordinary measure.
The loan is coming from the state revolving fund through Colorado Water Resource and Power Development Authority, which offers low-interest loans on a 20-year term for qualified-water projects. According to town officials, they feel confident they can secure one for less than 2 percent interest.
The existing facility, the Gary Roberts Water Treatment Plant, was built in 1971. It’s currently the only source of water for the town and leaves Breckenridge without a viable backup in case of emergency or plant failure.
 A 2013 study projected Breckenridge will outgrow its water supply sometime between 2025 and 2030, and the town has been planning the second water facility for several years now. Construction is expected to begin in 2018.
As such, town staff were seeking to nail down financing for the project Tuesday, and with council's approval, they can proceed with the next steps for execution of the loan, which they expect to close in mid-November.
The existing facility, the Gary Roberts Water Treatment Plant, was built in 1971. It's currently the only source of water for the town and leaves Breckenridge without a viable backup in case of emergency or plant failure.
Additionally, the town has kept water levels low at the nearby Goose Pasture Tarn Lake because its dam's spillway has been found to have structural deficiencies. State and town officials are confident the dam will hold given current mitigation efforts, and that's a good thing because the town can't begin work on the dam until the second water plant is complete.
Tuesday night's emergency ordinance passed unanimously. Councilman Mark Burke missed the meeting after attending a three-hour council workshop earlier in the day.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Breckenridge Ski Resort chief warms to Tiger Dredge parking garage plan

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link


In a surprise move, a high-ranking official with Vail Resorts publically commended Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday for its work to build a new, downtown parking garage at the Tiger Dredge parking lot.
The kind words spoken during a ski-resort update at Tuesday's council meeting were a 180-degree turnaround from earlier public statements and letters to the editor issued on behalf of Vail Resorts, in which John Buhler, chief operating officer at Breckenridge Ski Resort, has not been shy about criticizing the town.
Vail Resorts owns and operates Breckenridge Ski Resort, in addition to almost a dozen other resorts across North America, and Buhler regularly updates Breckenridge Town Council about what's happening on the mountain.
Addressing council Tuesday, Buhler said resort officials "are thrilled to still be a part of the parking and transit issues in town," and added they look forward to working with the town's parking and transportation task force in the near future.
"At the same time, I really want to acknowledge all the work that's been done so far on the Tiger Dredge (parking lot)," Buhler continued. "I think that's a great project and want to continue to see you guys continue to stay on track with that."
Buhler calling the planned parking structure at Tiger Dredge "a great project" came as a shocker for many people in council chambers because it's only three months removed from comments in which Buhler attacked the council's decision to forego building a parking structure at F Lot in favor of the nearby Tiger Dredge lot.
The spat between the town and its biggest economic engine stems from a voter-approved tax on lift-ticket sales at Breckenridge Ski Resort passed in November 2015. At the time the issue was being put on the ballot, Vail Resorts felt it had an agreement with the town that money generated by the new tax would be used to pay for construction of a large-scale parking structure with 500 to 700 new spaces at F Lot.
Most of the people currently serving on council had not been elected to their positions when the parking promise would have been made, and they have argued they are only acting in the best interest of the town and its residents as they look to ease one of the biggest problems facing Breckenridge today.
The location of the new parking garage doesn't seem to be too much of an issue — as the new structure at Tiger Dredge will actually spill over onto the F Lot property — but the smaller structure, with which the town is creating just under 300 additional spaces, appears to be the crux of Vail Resorts' complaint.
In Tuesday's comments, Buhler said Vail Resorts still has a "desire for (the town) to continue to look beyond just Tiger Dredge and onto other aspects of parking to get close to that 600 number."
In the same sentence, however, he called the planning and design work that's been done so far at Tiger Dredge "phenomenal," while also telling council that Vail Resorts will continue "to look for (the town) to take on the next phase of parking."
"You got some land for us?" Mayor Eric Mamula joked as Buhler wrapped up.
"There's still the ice rink, right?" Buhler replied, referencing another location — the Stephen C. West Ice Arena — where the town might decide to add more parking in the not-too-distant future.
At that moment, Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron chimed in, saying the ice rink has been his "favorite the whole time," and Buhler told him, "I still think it's a good one."
That statement too backtracked from Buhler's update last July, when he flatly told council: "The ice rink is not in (the) core of town and is certainly not skier parking."
As far as building at the ice rink goes, town staff members have repeatedly voiced opposition to taking on two large-scale parking projects at the same time, which would be highly problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is it would take two highly utilized parking lots out of commission at the same time.
Preliminary estimates have pegged the cost of a new parking garage at Tiger Dredge at about $8.9 million. However, those are early figures, and a question mark currently serves as a placeholder in the town's working budget.
Town staff has been adamant that construction at Tiger Dredge needs to begin this spring, and it's likely the town will see a ground-breaking early next year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Silverthorne celebrates finishing $500K bridge project

#Silverthorne #Colorado
Summit Daily News


Summit Daily News Link

Construction crews, workers from the Silverthorne Outlets and town officials celebrated the competition of a large-scale, bridge-replacement project on Thursday with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony in Silverthorne.
Frank Just, owner of Silverthorne's Betone and the contractor on the project, joined Mayor Bruce Butler and Outlets marketing director Anthony Bentz for the ceremony, along with members of town council, town staff and other workers from the outlet mall.
Altogether, the town spent about $500,000 on the project after staff determined it would be cheaper to swap out the old one rather than keep up regular maintenance on it.
To make the change, the largest crane ever used for a construction project in Summit County came in to hoist out the 25-year-old, 100-foot bridge and replace it with one made of corten steel, an alloy that eliminates any need for paint.
The heavy lifting came on Sept. 27, and the bridge opened to the public about a week later after all the decking and concrete work was complete. From there, the town added decorative elements and lighting. All stores remained open during construction.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Move over cat videos, there’s now ‘cat adventuring’

#Vail #Colorado
Courtesy Jenny Lane

Summit Daily News Link


VAIL — From out on the town to out on the hiking trails, cat adventures are fur real and are happening right meow.
Cat owners across the country — and here in Vail — are taking their feline friends outdoors for adventures, squashing the idea that all cats really do is eat and sleep. Now, no one has quite mastered the art of voice command for cats, so cat-specific leashes and harnesses make it safe to paw, claw and purr outside.
Laura J. Moss, author of “Adventure Cats” and creator of http://www.AdventureCats.org, looks to connect enthusiasts of “adventure catting.”
“If you’re a cat lover who also is active outdoors, it’s a great way to get your cat involved in your active lifestyle,” Moss told the Associated Press. “But the No. 1 reason to do it is because it’s good for your cat.” 

LEO IN VAIL

Jenny Lane, of Vail, saw Adventure Cats on Instagram and was interested in taking her cat Leo on some adventures with her.
She got Leo just over a year ago from the shelter in Summit County, and he is her first pet of any kind. Working long hours makes it hard to have a dog, she said. When she adopted Leo, the forms from previous owners stated he was an indoor/outdoor cat.
“I could tell that he would want to go outside, so I figured I’d give it a try and he seems to like it,” Lane said.
Lane tried a small-dog harness, but Leo prefers the cat-specific gear and looks more than comfortable strolling the town of Vail during the farmers market or out on Vail Mountain trails.
“He seems to be happy whenever we go out on walks, and I can usually tell when he wants to go outside,” she said. “I think he’s getting a little upset that it’s getting colder.”
Last winter, Lane tried taking Leo out in the snow.
“He wanted no part of that.”

CLIMBING, PADDLEBOARDS AND MORE

Moss says not all cats are up for adventures, and the ones that are usually prefer a couple of activities — not all adrenaline-pumping excursions.
“Is your cat interested in watching the world outside the window? Is your cat a door dasher? Does your cat have a lot of pent-up energy?” Moss asked. “At the same time, you can have a cat who’s extremely courageous and always up to try something new but who may not feel comfortable outside. You can also have a cat who’s very timid and hides when somebody comes over but loves to walk around the backyard.”
The Associated Press tracked down cat adventure owners across the country.
Craig Armstrong takes his rescue, Millie, rock climbing in Utah every weekend. He also takes Millie on frequent car rides and. Moss says determining if your cat is prone to motion sickness is important and also advocated for using a leash at all times.
Sushi lives in New Hampshire with her human, Georgina Saravia, and is a beach-loving cat who goes everywhere — except the woods for fear of ticks. Sushi doesn’t like to get wet but enjoys looking in the water.
In Michigan, Kim Randolph and her fiancĂ© take their cat Ruger snow hiking, along with their German shepherd. Randolph initially got a cat in college because dogs weren’t allowed, and she started harness training almost immediately. Ruger gained confidence with trips around the backyard.
Kenneth Lambrecht is a veterinarian in Wisconsin and proud dad to four cats. While some of them are experienced adventures, the younger ones are still learning. He takes them paddleboarding and warns that cats like Bug, a 6-year-old rescue, are one in a million.

OK TO PET

For Lane, she always has Leo on his leash and carries a travel bag just in case. She also carries water, although Leo doesn’t like to drink while out on adventures. She’ll carry food with some hydration in it and put water on his coat for him to lick.
“Most of the time whenever people see us, they say ‘Oh my gosh a cat on a leash’ or ‘I’ve never seen that before,'” Lane said of taking Leo out in Vail. “Then they usually come and ask to pet him, and he’s fine with strangers, and then they’ll ask about him.”
Not all responses are friendly, though, but Lane keeps Leo under her control at all times — even at the dog park.
“He interacts with other dogs. My sister has a dog and we take them to the Stephens Dog Park. My sister’s dog is like his little body guard,” she said.
To see Leo’s adventures, follow him on Instagram at @leothemtnkitty.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The fate of skiing: Winter Park Resort bucks trends as industry concerns grow over lack of skiing millennials

#Colorado
Courtesy Winter Park Resort

Summit Daily News Link


A new set of data from the National Ski Areas Association has ski areas nationwide concerned about one major problem: What do they do when baby boomers, a generation that brought recreational skiing and snowboarding into the mainstream, finally hang up the boots?
As most resorts struggle to fill the growing gap with a new generation of young snowsport athletes and casual riders, Winter Park Resort appears to be ahead of the curve.
"The sport really took off with baby boomers," said Steve Hurlbert, director of public relations and communications for Winter Park Resort. "They were the ones that when they were younger in the 1950s and 1970s really made skiing a huge recreational sport for young people.
"So industrywide there has been a lot of hand-wringing about what happens when they don't ski any more. That's why there have been a number of initiatives over the last 10 years. I think the industry saw this coming. Baby boomers are slowly going to phase out of the sport, so what can ski areas do to entice more millennials?"
“Industry-wide, there has been a lot of hand-wringing about what happens when (baby boomers) don’t ski any more.”­ 
— Steve HurlbertWinter Park Resort spokesperson
The problem isn't that millennials don't want to ski. Almost 40 percent of all snowsport participants are millennials.
The problem rather appears to be that younger generations, including from Generation X, just aren't skiing as many days. Pre-boom skiers average almost nine days a year on the slopes, while millennials average fewer than five, according to a study released by the National Ski Areas Association.
Hurlbert said that while this development has riled up the industry, it's not at all surprising.
"To me its kind of funny just because there's a worry about millennials not skiing as much," he said. "But if you think about it when any generation is just starting out, they're getting out of college, they're starting their lives and getting jobs for the first time. So I think once every generation gets settled they're able to take advantage and have more discretionary income."
Hurlbert said at Winter Park, boomers and millennials are almost identical in terms of the number of skiers, and that millennials tend to ski just as many days as other age demographics.
One of the major issues for millennials, however, is that skiing and snowboarding can be cost prohibitive sports.
Over 50 percent of millenial snowsport participants make less than $50,000 a year, in stark contrast to the 67 percent of Generation X participants who earn over $100,000 a year, according to NSAA data.
Hurlbert believes that while snowsports can be expensive, Winter Park has done a great job creating added value to ski passes to help justify costs. He said that by offering a myriad of free activities in the village, as well as free parking at Mary Jane, live music and happy hours help to add more value to the experience. Winter Park also offers ski passes for college students, active veterans and numerous other packages that Hurlbert said are incredibly popular.
Winter Park's proximity to the Front Range is also a major factor in the resort's ability to attract millennials and first-time skiers.
"When you look at our proximity to the Front Range, you've got a lot of people who will get up in the morning, see we've got snow and decide to ski that day," said Hurlbert. "They've got the luxury of being so close that they can decide on a moment's notice when they wake up in the morning."
The little things also matter. Hurlbert said that the ski train allows casual skiers to come up to the mountains without having to brave a snowy Berthoud Pass, or risk getting stuck in I-70 traffic for hours. He said that Winter Park Resort also recently updated its cellphone connectivity to allow people to post to social media and connect with friends on the mountain easier, an important development for an increasingly digitally connected generation.
Part of Winter Park's success in attracting millennials is also the social media push they've made over several years, and changing their marketing strategies to focus more on first-time skiers.
"I think we've always been on the leading edge of social media," said Hurlbert. "We have a number of organic social media contests that we do where we give away nice prizes like passes and skis. So there's been a real focus on social media marketing both paid and organic for a while."
Hurlbert said that while there's a myriad of things the resort does to better appeal to younger skiers and riders, the most important aspect is providing a good experience on the mountain.
"If you have a great experience, it doesn't matter," he said. "I think people are sort of over-blowing this whole 'what are we going to do to attract millennials thing.' If you focus on just putting out a great experience for people, then people are going to come. Millennials are no different from anyone else."

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Learn Summit County history with walking tour of Bill’s Ranch neighborhood

#Frisco #Colorado
 Summit Daily News Photo

Summit Daily News Link


On Saturday, Oct. 28, at 10 a.m., the Frisco Historic Park and Museum will present a historic walking tour through Bill's Ranch. According to Sandra Mather's book, "Frisco and the Ten Mile Canyon," Bill's Ranch became Frisco's first subdivision and second-home development when William (Bill) Thomas wrote a letter to 100 Denver residents offering free land if they would build cabins there within one year.
Bill Thomas only had five takers initially, but the idea soon took off. Walking tour participants will find out why Bill Thomas made the offer of free land to Denver residents and about the history of Bill's Ranch and the neighborhood's historic structures.
"This iconic Frisco neighborhood certainly has a story to tell about how Frisco became what it is today. This tour usually fills quickly because the story of this area is so compelling," stated Simone Belz, Frisco Museum director.
Space in the tour is limited to 30 people and advance registration is required. The tour will be approximately two hours long. Participants should be prepared for unpredictable fall weather and wear sturdy walking shoes. Dogs are not allowed on this tour.
For more information on all of the Frisco Historic Park and Museum programs, call 970-668-3428 or go to FriscoHistoricPark.com.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

New Verizon cellphone tower coming soon to Silverthorne area

#Silverthorne #Colorado
Summit Daily News Photo


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Verizon Wireless customers should soon experience improved service in northern Silverthorne with a new 4G LTE cellphone tower in the Eagles Nest neighborhood coming online as early as the end of this month.
The Eagles Nest Property Homeowners Association has worked to conceal the tower, and it's difficult to distinguish the 35-foot antenna from the surrounding trees, especially at a distance.
Much like a fake Christmas tree, the tower's protruding arms have been made to resemble the branches and needles of an evergreen, and its base is wrapped in a bark-like covering.
In the same vein, the HOA planted living trees around the tower and in front of a nearby maintenance building that was cut into the hillside and houses all the electrical equipment.
Once operational, the tower will extend Verizon's network in northern Silverthorne, as well as along pieces of Colorado 9 and into the Lower Blue River Valley. Additionally, it should improve reliability in the area surrounding the Eagles Nest neighborhood — especially on the weekends when heavy traffic demands a high volume of data — and reduce the strenuous workload falling on an existing tower near Old Dillon Reservoir.
Verizon and the Eagles Nest HOA have agreed to a 25-year lease for the wireless provider to operate the tower on a hill not far from the Eagles Nest Community Center at 2700 Golden Eagle Road, west of the highway.
Xcel Energy performed its final inspection earlier this week, and all that's left to do is install the electric meter, said Paul Camillo, co-chair of the Eagles Nest Design Review Committee.
"As soon as they get that, they'll start powering it up trying to bring it online," he said. "Yeah, we're ready to go … we're hoping by the end of the month to get it running."
The new tower comes as great news for first-responders with Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue, who rely on Verizon's technology to save lives. As Verizon was seeking the necessary approvals from Silverthorne Town Council, assistant chief Bruce Farrell submitted a letter of support for the new tower, in which he says he speaks on behalf of the district.
"Our organization is fully supportive of the proposed site and tower," Farrell concluded.
In addition to Verizon smartphones, The Lake Dillon Fire Protection District also utilizes the company's modems to power its emergency crews' mobile-data computers.
The project began in February 2015 when Verizon approached the Eagles Nest HOA after vetting four possible sites and landing on this location. Tower discussions stalled shortly thereafter when an employee with the tower-installation company left the position. However, talks quickly resumed once the position was filled.
The design committee then approved the project and issued a notice to proceed, and town council gave Verizon the go-ahead in September 2016. Verizon obtained the necessary permitting last spring, and construction began in July.
At this point, the tower is all but ready, said George Resseguie, president of the Eagles Nest HOA board, and the remaining work is only cosmetic.
Eagles Nest has about 750 homeowners in the association, he said in estimating that about half have get their wireless services through Verizon.
Still, the project didn't come without a couple early concerns, Resseguie said, most notably that the tower's signals or radio waves could affect nearby residents' health or that it would be obtrusive in the Eagles Nest neighborhood, where luxury homes can sell for as much as $2.5 million.
To get the word out, the HOA hosted two open houses, sent out a handful of email blasts to its members and offered up detailed information at its annual HOA meeting.
The project also had to go through all the town's standard requirements, and with those efforts, Resseguie said they were able to ally most everyone's concerns with factual information.
"We made a great effort to be sure everybody knew everything," the board president said. "And if they had issues, they brought the issues to us, and we all discussed it … people just want to know what's going on. If you keep them in the dark, they get suspicious."
Resseguie said the new tower won't erase every deadspot across Lower Blue River Valley, which is infamous for poor service, dropped calls and dead zones, but it will help.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Discovery Channel’s ‘Gold Rush,’ ‘mining for ratings,’ faces lawsuit from Park County neighbors

#Fairplay #Colorado
Summit Daily


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The noise would start at 7 every morning and wouldn't stop until the evening, turning a rural neighborhood near Fairplay into an industrial zone, residents said.
The culprit: a reality-TV gold mining operation that they say wrecked a hillside landscape, ran afoul of its permits and shattered the quiet of their neighborhood all summer. In May, tensions boiled over into some alleged gunplay and the arrest of a local man for felony menacing.
Mining stopped last week for the popular Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush,” on the eve of its season eight premier on Oct. 13. But a legal challenge mounted by a group of 30 residents continues, aiming to keep the show from returning for another summer of mining.
Last month, Save South Park filed a lawsuit against the Board of County Commissioners of Park County, accusing it of "abusing its discretion" by granting a favorable rezoning for the miners against the recommendation of its own planning commission.
"This is not an appropriate land use decision," said Danny Teodoru, the plaintiff's attorney. "Here's a circumstance where there are people directly next to this mine and the impacts are felt by them in a very dramatic fashion."
County manager Tom Eisenman was out of town Wednesday and couldn't be reached for comment. Messages left for his assistant and the commissioners were not returned. Teodoru said the county had two weeks to file its response.
The lawsuit also names two companies tied to the show, High Speed Mining, LLC and High Speed Aggregate, Inc.
The Gold Rush crew first started mining an old dredge site below Colorado Highway 9 in 2016. Not all of the neighbors share Save South Park's complaints.
"As far as the relationship they've had with the town, it's all been five-star," said Fairplay Mayor Gabby Lane. "Nice gentlemen, they come into town, they spend a lot of money, they don't cause any trouble. What more could you ask?"
The show itself, however, paints a different picture, at least for its TV viewers. The season's second episode, "Blizzards and Bullets," set to premier Oct. 20, promises a "rogue gunman" who "fires shots" at the crew.
That drama presumably refers to 35-year-old resident Aaron Borth, charged with felony menacing and reckless endangerment.
He was arrested on May 18 after three crewmembers went to the Park County Sheriff's Office in Fairplay to report that Borth accosted them and fired a handgun into the ground as they sped away in trucks, court documents say.
Borth denied using a handgun but expressed his "frustration" over the mining near Fairplay, according to the documents.
"They're not mining for gold, they're mining for ratings," is a common refrain among the unhappy locals. Either way, it was loud, and this summer it encroached on residential-zoned areas.
"All I've ever wanted to do all summer long is sit on my deck and have some quiet, and I couldn't do that this year because there was so much noise — it was unbelievable," said resident Ann Lukacs.
Gold Rush's supporters are quick to point out that Park County has always been a mining area, and that its crew is working a site that has been in operation for years.
But the difference, some say, is that the show's deep pockets have turned a once-sleepy gravel mine into an industrial-scale gold mining operation with dozens of pieces of heavy machinery.
"We think that a normal miner who is not subsidized could probably not really afford to do the kind of mining they were doing," said resident Krissy Barrett.
The ridge immediately across the highway from the mine is surprisingly dense with homes. Residents there say the sound of dump trucks and trundling boulders have registered more than 20 decibels higher than the permitted level at their homes.
"As far as what I can see and what I've been told, they've tried to make as many concessions to the close-by neighbors as they can, but it's still business," Lane said. "It's still mining, and mining is noisy."
Those residents also have the best view of what the mining has done to the land, ripping up stands of cottonwood trees and lopping off a chunk of the hillside.
"They've certainly changed the landscape," Lane acknowledged, although he added that the miners agreed to reclaim and restore the site once they were finished.
In the spring, the expansion of the mine site into tree-lined, residentially zoned land prompted the county to order a cease-and-desist against the Gold Rush crew.
But the trucks and excavators were soon humming again after the county commissioners unanimously approved a rezoning of 28 acres of residential land for mining uses in August.
The lawsuit alleges that the decision was pushed through with inadequate public comment and against the recommendation of the Park County Planning Commission, an advisory body whose recommendations are not binding.
"The proximity of residentially zoned properties has already resulted in complaints regarding noise and other environmental impacts," the planning commission wrote, according to the suit. "The proposed expansion of the operation would result in mining activity within 100 yards of residences on nearby lots, and no buffer or setback is proposed in the application."
Public comments poured in while the rezoning was being considered, falling along predictable lines of mining heritage versus environmental stewardship.
"These people have demonstrated no concern for the citizens and laws of Park County by casually violating our zoning regulations," one resident wrote. "Are we a bedroom community, a recreational community or a gravel pit?"
The U.S. Forest Service also weighed in against the rezoning, saying in a letter that the show had "increased dramatically" the number of people living on National Forest land and mining without proper permits.
More than 150 form letters in support of the rezoning signed by Park County residents were also submitted, although their brevity was a sharp contrast from the page-length letters of protest submitted by nearby residents.
"I've been doing this for 20 years, and that certainly seemed to be one of those applicant-generated form letters," Teodoru said. "I don't think there were 150 people at the meetings advocating for mining in a neighborhood."
If the residents win their suit, essentially an appeal of the rezoning decision, the county could still restart the process and approve it again.
It's also not clear whether or not “Gold Rush” will return either way. That likely depends on how season eight wraps up, tying the residents' peace and quiet to the ratings.
"I walk around like, are you kidding me?" Lukacs said, chuckling. "A TV show is causing all of this pain in my life?"