Breck to ponder options to fund land purchase |

Breck to ponder options to fund land purchase

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Committee members can continue to buy land at their current pace only if town officials are able to come up with alternative strategies to purchase the B&B Mines property north of town.The property is located just east of Breckenridge, includes valley-bottom lands along French Gulch and the Swan River, as well as higher elevation scenic backdrops and popular recreational trails.Town and county officials have reached a tentative agreement to purchase the land for $9 million. This purchase represents the largest acquisition to date – both in terms of acreage and price – for both entities.The town’s open space committee (BOSAC) typically receives about $1.2 million each year from a half-cent sales tax voters approved in 1996. It spends the money on land acquisition, trail construction and maintenance, consultants, landscaping and surveying.At the end of 2001, BOSAC had a balance of $1,606,403. said Jeff Hunt, assistant director of community development for the town. This year, it is expected to have a balance of $152,837 after spending $1.1 million on miscellaneous land acquisitions, $350,000 to conduct due-diligence procedures on the B&B land, $400,000 in debt service for the Cucumber Gulch parcel bought last year and $375,000 on the McCain property north of town.In 2003, BOSAC anticipates spending $399,464 toward the Cucumber Gulch parcel, almost $200,000 on trail construction, maintenance and landscaping and $177,000 on consultants and administrative time, leaving it with a balance – not including other possible expenditures – of $693,441.The B&B sale is contingent on an analysis of environmental liabilities on the land, which is dotted with various mines and mills, some of which are blamed for contaminating nearby waterways. The county and town plan to split the cost of the purchase price, and close on the deal on or before June 2004.But if town officials are unable to find an alternate way to fund the B&B property and kept making other land purchases, they could start spending money they don’t have.Issuing bonds of any sort is one of many options the town will consider to pay for its half of the open space acquisition northeast of Breckenridge.Mayor Sam Mamula said he wants to see an analysis of a 20-year-bond and the implications obtaining one would have on BOSAC’s purchasing power.Others include obtaining grants from Great Outdoors Colorado, funds made available through the Colorado Lottery, said County Open Space and Trails Director Todd Robertson. Funds also could be raised through the Continental Divide Land Trust, or other organizations that award money for specialized restoration efforts such as trout population rehabilitation or repair of historic structures.The county plans to fund its portion through its mill levy-funded Open Space fund, which has money carried over from the past two years, Robertson said. County officials have also discussed the possibility of selling isolated parcels within the B&B parcel to developers to help fund the purchase.Town council members said they would like to be able to continue buying other parcels in the next several years, but not at the expense of deficit spending.”You can’t continue on like this,” said Councilmember David Hinton. “We’re talking about deficit spending, and we can’t do it. We’re not the federal government.”Councilmembers Larry Crispell and J.B. Katz, however, said they didn’t want the town to lose out on opportunities to purchase smaller parcels of land, particularly if some become available in the downtown core.”We’re years out from purchasing B&B,” Crispell said. “We don’t even know if it’s going to happen.””The only way we can do this is to increase the tax,” said Councilmember Michael Bertaux. “It’s not necessarily pleasant, although people have supported it. They’ve done it twice in the past.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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