The 11-member Summit Stage transit board agreed to add a new seat to the body at its monthly meeting Wednesday, but it will not go to the town of Blue River despite an ongoing push from the municipality to be involved in the county transit system.
Instead the board, charged with overseeing operations of the free bus service and making budget and other policy recommendations to the Summit Board of County Commissioners, granted Arapahoe Basin Ski Area a designated seat on the board, freeing up the at-large position the resort’s CEO, Alan Henceroth, previously occupied.
Summit Stage officials said Blue River leaders can put up a candidate for the now-available at-large seat or send a representative to attend the board’s open meetings if they want to become more involved in the system.
“These are public meetings and people are free to come. We’ve always taken public comment,” board president Kent Willis said Wednesday. “It might be beneficial for the town to come to these meetings and see what we’re doing and really demonstrate a commitment. ... Then we can go back to the commissioners at a future date and revisit this talk.”
In declining Blue River’s plea for a spot on the board, current members said that other small towns in Summit — like Montezuma — aren’t represented and that Blue River lacks a town sales tax, the mechanism by which the Summit Stage is funded.
But Blue River officials say recent demographic data shows the town’s population is growing and that all of its residents make purchases and pay sales taxes somewhere in the county.
“We are frustrated,” Blue River Mayor Lindsay Backas said. “I’d like to know from them why we couldn’t get a seat and A-Basin did and what we need to do to work toward getting a seat. This is very important to a lot of people.”
Currently, Silverthorne, Dillon, Breckenridge, Frisco and the four local ski areas have voting representatives on the board. There are also three at-large members representing various planning basins in the county.
Blue River has long been pushing to be included in the Summit Stage, with the end goal of extending bus service into the town, which is located several miles south of Breckenridge. Officials say there is a large ridership demand and that the lack of transit is beginning to impact rental rates in the town.
“Bus service out to Blue River has become a very big issue in Blue River,” Backas said. “Economically, it is a detriment to (rental property owners) because they have to charge less because the people that come here have to have their own vehicles.”
But the Summit Stage has been chronically underfunded in recent years, and transit officials say a new route isn’t in the budget.
Board members will advertise the open at-large position, take applications from interested candidates, then make a recommendation to the Summit County Commissioners for an appointment.
“These are public meetings and people are free to come. ... It might be beneficial for the town (Blue River) to come to these meetings and see what we’re doing and really demonstrate a commitment.”
— Kent Willis
Summit Stage transit board president