Summit Daily letters: Breckenridge parking, recycling fixes and altitude adjustments
December 7, 2016
A Breckenridge parking proposal
Since the Breckenridge Town council has thrown open the parking situation discussion to the entire state of Colorado through the back and forth with the Denver Post, I'd like to insert my 2 cents' worth.
A parking structure on F Lot or anywhere else in the core of downtown Breckenridge is absolutely insane. The Park Avenue/Main Street gridlock at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day would be unmanageable. That overwhelming congestion would be infinitely worse than any current traffic problem. The object of this parking madness should be to get vehicles out of town, not bring more into town. We want the people, not their cars!
Here's a practical, common sense, low vehicular impact, environmentally friendly alternative:
Phase I: Make the cross streets in downtown Breckenridge alternating one-way with parking spaces in the other lane on each street. By my unofficial count, this would add at least 150 parking spaces. For example, Lincoln Avenue would be one-way in one lane westbound with parking all along the other lane also going west. Washington Street would be one-way, one-lane eastbound with parking all along the other lane also going east. Adams Street would be one-way, one-lane westbound with parking all along the other lane also going west. Jefferson Avenue would be one-way, one-lane eastbound with parking all along the other lane also going east. Ridge, French, Harris and High streets would remain two-way streets with their parking as it currently exists.
Phase II: Construct a three-level parking structure on Town/Vail Resorts land on Airport Road with two levels underground into the underground rock pile to enhance aesthetic visual appeal. This satellite parking structure would add 300 parking spaces.
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Phase III: Build an elevated 20-foot-high, enclosed and year-round ski train from the satellite parking structure along the Airport Road/Park Avenue right-of-way with stops at the rec center, City Market, Gondola Base Station, Riverwalk Center and a new F Lot Skier Services/Ticket Hospitality Center. This electric ski train would be environmentally friendly and run continuous loops between Airport Road and F Lot, thereby shuttling skiers/shoppers/diners without their cars into and out of the core with no vehicular congestion.
All town parking would be free in order to provide the highest customer service of any resort town in Colorado. The project would be funded by recent voter approved funds, the on-going 1 percent town transfer tax resources and Vail Resorts private corporate financing.
Suggestions on addressing the recycling crisis
At the Summit Daily-sponsored recycling forum on Dec. 2, Summit County public works director Tom Gosiorowski told us basically three things:
1. SCRAP (Summit County Resource Allocation Park) has a finite life of ~40 years.
2. Their current revenues are not covering their costs/expenses.
3. Summit County is trying to put together an ordinance for approval of all Summit Co. towns which would require any recyclables and/or trash produced here to stay in Summit Co. He even suggested they become something like our utilities.
I would like to address these items in the order presented.
1. We humans know our life is finite. However, most of us do some kind of exercise daily or weekly to hopefully extend our lives by just a few years. SCRAP should be doing the same. Rather than look at one of our recyclables and trash haulers as something bad, look at it as just one potential answer to extending the life of our landfill because there will never be another one here. Without a recycle plan, all recyclables become trash. This will shorten — not extend — the life of our landfill. We need to be looking for creative solutions rather than talking them down.
2. Except for government agencies who can tax people to artificially cover their expenses, businesses must make their expenses relatively to equal their revenues or they will surely fail. So, the first thing SCRAP must do is to reasonably balance their expenses to meet their revenues. They say they inherited issues when they took over the landfill and need "millions" of dollars to cover the eventual closure of the landfill. Stating generalities like "millions" doesn't really help move our combined discussions forward. Why doesn't the Board of Summit County Commissioners take money from their quite large (more than $18 million and growing) general fund to pay for some of the "sins of the past" debt? They do this on the Front Range. How much do we need to set aside in reserves to cover the eventual closure of the landfill? Has this already been started? If not, why not?
3. Try as they may, SCRAP cannot become a utility. A utility, like Xcel, is a monopoly; and they are regulated by a public utilities commission and pay the individual towns in Summit a franchise fee for this privilege. Who would regulate SCRAP? We have at least four recyclables and trash haulers in Summit. They compete with each other and that is a good thing for all of us who produce recyclables and trash here. It keeps our costs lower and not artificially priced. While some are larger than the others, none of them has a monopoly.
I don't think Larry Romine knew the answer when he asked how many of those in attendance would be willing to pay a fee for disposal of recyclables. The show of hands of positive support was astounding! We citizens know it costs money to dispose of our recyclables, but we are willing to help. This just proves three things: the only stupid question is the one we forget to ask; SCRAP should listen to its citizens and not think they are smarter than us, and we are willing to work together with our county officials and recyclables/trash haulers to find an economically feasible long-term solution. We are all conservative when it comes to keeping our Summit County environment clean.
Another good idea presented and supported by both Timberline and Waste Management was for SCRAP building a transfer station for disposal of trash and disposition of recyclables to the Front Range in larger trucks. This is a creative thought that could provide an immediate savings of nearly $45/ton. We will ultimately have to do this at some time in our future, but doing it sooner will help extend the life of our landfill.
I have been treating Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) in Summit County for 15 years through my house-call practice, High Altitude Mobile Physicians. I want to share my experience and challenge conventional wisdom, so we prevent AMS rather than treat its consequences.
Stop telling visitors to drink water. It's helpful, but by the time they hear it from the umpteenth local, they tend to overdo it. Instead, tell them it's about diet; lighter, more frequent meals — high carb, low fat, low protein (as in, you wouldn't eat a steak the night before a marathon) and avoid alcohol the first two days. After 48 hours, they can go back to a normal diet.
The water issue is based on the fact that our air is very dry; the biggest loss of fluid from our bodies is called insensible loss, meaning we're not aware of it. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated; they can't make up for that in one day, having to process excess water is taxing to the oxygen-deprived kidneys.
The basis for my advice is that the intestines are deprived of oxygen, more so than the more-important organs; the brain, heart and kidneys. We are in the highest ski area in North America. Every breath you take up here has 1/3 fewer oxygen molecules than sea level (air molecules are simply further apart up here because of reduced air pressure.) That's what we call "thin air." The body's response is to breathe deeper and faster and pump the heart faster. Those compensatory mechanisms slow down at night when we relax. Add alcohol (most people drink in the evening), which is a respiratory depressant, and the problem is compounded. The difference between us locals and our guests is that we have an extra unit of blood — more red cells, thus more oxygen-carrying capacity. That's a six-week adaptation to living up here. It's why our Olympians train in Colorado Springs — more red cells, more oxygen, better performance.
So, go out of your way and tell our visitors to increase their water intake only enough to produce clear urine — that's enough. Emphasize diet, as above. Tell them to reduce their activity for the first days; fat chance, but try anyway. I would challenge our restaurants to offer an "altitude meal," or at least recommend that just-arrived patrons eat half of their meals, and take the rest home. While I'm at it, I would challenge the ski area to recommend against putting kids in ski school the day after their arrival, otherwise 20-30 percent of those children will hate the sport. Instead, advise them to take the kids to the sledding hill at Carter Park the first day. That's two hours of fun activity and a lot easier on the body, rather than a whole day struggling with a new sport.
Twenty to 30 percent of our visitors have significant problems with our altitude. I believe we could reduce that by half if we simply emphasize diet and less activity. The phrase I hear most from my patients is, "I've never felt this bad in my life." They don't go home and rave about Breckenridge — they go elsewhere to ski.
David Gray, MD
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