The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center's Breckenridge Ski Office is getting a much-needed makeover.
The space, located at the base of Peak 9, is being expanded to the tune of 1,000 square feet, an addition that nearly doubles the size of the office. At 1,200 square feet, the previous space just wasn't enough to house the program's gear and accommodate staff, volunteers and a growing participant base, according to BOEC ski program director Gene Gamber.
Gamber, who's going into his 14th season as ski director, said the program gave 1,800 lessons in his first year. Last year, that figure was more than 3,000.
"We don't have enough space to do the volume of business that we currently do," he said.
On busy days, there could be 30 students, 30 instructors, 15-20 volunteers, plus parents and staff from other groups all trying to meet in that old 1,200-square-foot office.
"You can have 100 people in a very small space," he said.
Plus, there wasn't enough room for lockers, and in particular, all the gear needed for adaptive skiing. In the past, that was all left in the center of the room overnight.
With the addition, "it's about the right size space now for all our needs," Gamber said. "This is a huge improvement.
Often, instructors and participants would have to go outside in the snow to meet, and get ready with the equipment, according to Marci Sloan, the BOEC's development director.
"The BOEC ski school expansion is an historic improvement to the services we provide to people with disabilities and special needs," Sloan said. "The expanded space will allow us to provide the very best in adaptive and ride lessons to those who would not otherwise have this opportunity. We owe a huge thanks to our partners, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Vail Resorts, and the town of Breckenridge."
The space is owned by Vail Resorts, and has always been leased to the nonprofit for free.
The project is estimated to cost roughly $75,000, something being paid for through grants, individual donations and in-kind donations, like from Scott Downen at Colombine Hills Concrete and Jon Heckman of JLH Constructors, who are working for free, Sloan said.
"We are also grateful for the generous help of Tim Casey, chairman of the BOEC board, who led our negotiations and secured the necessary agreements and planning permissions," Sloan said. "Thanks to Steve West from West Brown Huntley and Hunter, P.C., and Marc Hogan and Jamie Pawlak from bhh Partners, whose efforts truly enabled us to get under way ... We extend our deepest thanks to all of them as well as to members of our board, staff, community donors and our volunteers who have offered their support, with many willing to help in any way they can."
The project should be done just in time for lessons to start in November.