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Childcare, housing are Breckenridge priorities

BOB BERWYN
summit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE ” Childcare and affordable housing top the list of community issues for the new Breckenridge Town Council, and based on recent discussions at a retreat and subsequent work session, the town’s elected leaders may soon be looking to put their money where their collective mouth is.

“I think the big thing for us is, we’ve decided to listen to the public,” said Councilmember Eric Mamula. The results of the April election show that residents want to see those issues addressed, Mamula said.

“I think we’re going to see a push for affordable housing and childcare, and that potentially means putting some of our money into building a facility and finding an operator or partnering with an operator,” Mamula said.

Though it’s still too early to talk about the details of financing, Mamula suggested the town may consider using money it already has to do something sooner, rather than later.

“I think daycare and housing will trump things like recreation for the time being,” Mamula said. “Obviously, those made the top rung. We want to make sure that the people who make the community run can stay here.”

Councilmember John Warner bluntly spoke to the same topic during a work session last week.

“I don’t believe our youth feels like they’re welcomed back to our community,” Warner said. “It’s too expensive. There’s no housing.” Those factors lead to alienation and even to behavioral and emotional problems, he added.

New Councilmember Dave Rossi said the question of funding an affordable housing and childcare passage might eventually be put to a vote in a quest for funding.

“What you keep hearing is that we’re behind, way behind,” Rossi said. “Is there any community that’s ahead of the curve on this?” he asked, adding that the discussion also needs to include looking at the need for different types of housing, from the single-family style of the Wellington Neighborhood to the apartment complexes in developments like Pinewood Village.

Mamula said it’s too early to start talking about a potential tax increase to fund housing and childcare.

“There are other things we can talk about first,” he said, characterizing a new tax or tax hike as a last-ditch solution.

For all the consensus on those two big issues, council members also highlighted several other areas they’d like to spend some time on.

Rob Millisor, for example, brought up the town’s building codes and said he’d like to see some revisions that would “really give builders a reason to go green.”

Rossi mentioned natural resource issues, including light pollution and especially open space, wanting to ensure that the town stays on track with acquiring land.

“If the can keeps getting kicked down the road … we’re not going to be able to afford anything,” he said, referring to spiralling land costs and potential open space purchases that have been considered recently.

Mamula said he wanted to “red-flag” the issue of redevelopment, as it relates to older properties in town that might be nearing the end of the their useful life and the ability of property owners to “grandfather” existing density.

Mayor Ernie Blake said he thinks there should be some discussion about an big-picture transportation plan, with a look at integrating the various bus systems for more efficient operations.

Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.


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