Breckenridge officials look to revamp Sustainable Breck plan 10 years after it began |

Breckenridge officials look to revamp Sustainable Breck plan 10 years after it began

One of Breck Free Ride's electric buses drives north on Park Avenue in Breckenridge on Jan. 16. The addition of electric buses was one of the success of the Sustainable Breck plan, which reached its 10th anniversary last year.
Lindsey Toomer/Summit Daily News archive

Over 10 years since the Breckenridge Town Council adopted the Sustainable Breck plan, officials are looking to do an update that will dedicate nearly $200,000 to gathering community input and developing solutions for environmental problems.

Town staff presented plans to update Sustainable Breck at the Tuesday, Feb. 22, Town Council meeting. Jessie Burley, sustainability and parking manager, said the update is a long time coming as much has changed in the town since 2011.

“(Breckenridge) is slammed,” she said in an interview Thursday, Feb. 24. “There are a lot of people in town. We’re having very acute housing troubles. We’ve gone through a global pandemic.”

The plan, which set out to establish Breckenridge as a leader in sustainability, was originally developed coming out of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, then approved in 2011. The plan addressed 10 areas of focus: local economy, water, housing, resource conservation, transportation, forest health, land use, recreation and open space, wildlife and child care.

Using the plan, the town was able to pass a disposable bag fee and create a reusable bag program. The town has also invested in zero net energy affordable housing projects, electric vehicle charging ports, two electric buses and child care tuition assistance programs. In 2017, the town adopted a goal to use 100% renewable energy.

Burley said the town hopes to reflect all of those changes in the updated plan while also addressing issues that have developed over the past 10 years. For example, the town has expressed a commitment to social equity in recent years, but that wasn’t a part of the original plan, Burley said.

“We want to really look at whether it makes sense to keep some of these categories in there, or whether or not we need to be refocusing in different areas,” Burley said.

On Tuesday, the Town Council approved an increase to the budget for the project. Originally, the town planned to spend $50,000 updating Sustainable Breck. After receiving proposals from various consultants, Burley said town officials realized the update will require more funds. The council ultimately approved a nearly $200,000 budget for the plan.

The money will help the town perform a cost-benefit analysis, host community engagement events and create a data dashboard that will be updated in real time. The dashboard will allow the community to see how much the plan has contributed to improving sustainability in the community as time goes on.

Burley said community engagement is one of the main priorities for the town as it looks to update Sustainable Breck. Those efforts will include meetings with community members in workshops and focus groups as well as surveys to gather feedback. The town plans to release dates for those meetings in the coming weeks.

“We haven’t gone back and touched base with the community really in its entirety,” Burley said. “We’re really looking forward to that.”

Town Council members expressed their approval of the plans to update Sustainable Breck. Council member Carol Saade encouraged Burley and other town staff members to incorporate the Five-Year Housing Blueprint, a plan to invest $50 million into 970 units of workforce housing, into the update.

“We’re going to bring online 1,000 units. How (is) that extra strain to our community’s infrastructure … going to play into the 10 previous points,” Saade said at the meeting.

Other council members agreed with Saade and Burley that the plan should be a road map to sustainability in Breckenridge with more concrete strategies to solve problems.

“I want to make sure that out of this we end up with a plan that (has) some teeth in it, rather than, ‘Look what we did,’” Mayor Eric Mamula said.

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