Breckenridge considers new designs on McCain property
Heavily dredge-mined in the early 1900s, the reclaimed McCain property between Coyne Valley Road and the Fairview Boulevard roundabout represents one of the few remaining large-scale, undeveloped properties in Summit County and perhaps the last such site for Breckenridge. What exactly will become of the 128 acres of town-owned land along Highway 9 remains a work in progress, though there’s no shortage of ideas.
“The chance to have a meaningful dialogue about probably the last large piece of property in the town of Breckenridge is really important,” Breckenridge planning commissioner Steve Gerard said at last week’s commission meeting. “When this gets built out, we’re pretty much done.”
The meeting was designed to allow the general public to get a feel for the newly proposed master plan for the McCain property and offer feedback. While the planning commission took public comments, the commissioners will only give a recommendation to town council, which has final say.
Interest in the future of the property was evident in the number of people who attended Tuesday’s planning commission meeting and how closely they followed town staff’s presentation, many with printed copies of the newly proposed master plan in hand.
The Blue River splits the McCain property south to north on the western edge. The town bought the land for $1 million in 2000 and most of the rock piles have since been removed, leaving it ripe for development.
The master plan, which guides those developments, was last updated in 2015 and Breckenridge officials are looking to adjust it again as they seek to accommodate a land swap with the Summit School District — as well as penciling in some other changes.
Some pieces of the McCain property are spoken for. A solar garden occupies 2.7 acres near the center, the town’s new water-treatment plant is under construction at the northeast corner and Summit County’s recycling drop-off center sits on the opposite end. The 10 acres of land designated for the land swap is about the right size for an elementary school, though town staff say the district has no plans to build one there at this time.
“What it is, it’s a land-banking move on (the district’s) part, so there could be some other type of school facility there, but I don’t know what that might be,” said Peter Grosshuesch, the town’s director of planning and community development, as he answered questions about the trade during the meeting.
In return for giving the district land at McCain, Breckenridge would secure a similar-sized property by Block 11, another town-owned parcel directly to the south of the McCain property that is encumbered by several easements and ideal for a surface parking lot. The town can move skier parking off the McCain property to Block 11, which will help satisfy the town’s existing agreement with Breckenridge Ski Resort to provide 500 skier parking spaces in town.
In addition to accommodating the land swap, the proposed master plan would remove a planned expansion of the solar garden, fill in a perviously planned reservoir, consolidate snow storage areas and adjust some of the tracts originally designated for housing and open space. The amount of open space would be reduced from 78.5 acres to 44.6 acres, or about 34 percent of the entire property, in the updated plan. For some people, that doesn’t appear to be enough.
“What happened to the open space, guys?” asked Lee Edwards of the planning commissioners, noticing a 23-acre tract of land designated strictly for open space in 2015 has been reset as 19.9 acres slated for housing, recreation and open space in the proposed update.
“Leave it open space,” he said to a round of applause from the audience.
Shortly afterward another Breckenridge homeowner asked if the town intends to fill a small pond on the McCain property, and staff said they do.
“That’s a bummer,” the man replied, saying that hundreds of geese and ducks flock there over the winter and the pond is great for trout fishing.
Another woman inquired about the possibility of a field house on the property, as there have been whispers that some people in town would like to see an indoor athletic facility there, but that too is not in the newly proposed plan.
“Never say never, but it’s not currently being discussed,” staff told the woman.
Identifying himself as a representative of The Peak School, Art Albin addressed the room when he said the private school based out of Frisco is looking to expand sometime in the not-too-distant future and he hoped Breckenridge would keep The Peak School in mind at McCain.
“In fact, we’re looking for school sites that might be an alternative to building on our existing location,” Albin said. “We have a little bit of land available on Main Street in Frisco, but we’re trying to keep our options open.”
In many ways, so is the town.
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