County approves $1.2 million plan to ease Summit Cove’s flood pains |

County approves $1.2 million plan to ease Summit Cove’s flood pains

Jane Reuter

In addition to the golf course changes, other planned drainage enhancements include:

? Work in the Snowberry neighborhood to include cleaning silted-in ditches, adding a new culvert and resizing some driveway culverts.

? Improvements to the Lakehaus condominiums and new Buck Ridge development that includes a redesign of the Buck Ridge detention pond, cleaning of the Rice Ditch and run Cartier Court drainage north.

SUMMIT COUNTY – In an emergency meeting Monday, the Summit Board of County Commissioners approved a $1.2 million drainage plan designed to ease Summit Cove’s flooding woes.

Because Keystone’s River Course is a suspected culprit in much of the problem, Summit County officials expect the resort to pick up about $500,000 of the tab.

Keystone’s key decision-makers were out of town Monday, but Commissioner Tom Long said Keystone Chief Executive Officer John Rutter “made the pledge to work on the issue of financing” upon his return. Long said he spoke to Rutter by phone moments before the emergency meeting was called to order.

“We want to be part of the fix,” said Keystone’s director of golf courses, Steve Corneillier, who spoke for the resort at the meeting.

While the county is struggling with an ever-tightening budget, it is drawing funds for part of the work from its reserves, money the county legally is obligated to hold back for emergencies. The county government has about $1.5 million in reserves. Another portion of the work already is included in the county road and bridge department’s annual maintenance budget, according to a report on the drainage plan.

On the resort side, the financial burden will be shared by Keystone and Keystone Real Estate Development – a company that pairs Keystone and Intrawest in many of Keystone Resort’s recent developments.

The drainage plan will be conducted in four phases, with the largest – and most expensive – already under way.

That phase involves drainage improvements on and off the golf course, and officials believe it will remedy the bulk of the problem. Preparations for that portion of the improvements began later Monday afternoon, according to the county’s public works director Jack Benson.

Monday’s meeting was triggered by Commissioner Tom Long’s visit to Summit Cove one week ago, shortly after 1.5 inches of rain had fallen there in an hour and a half. Ditches and drains overflowed after the storm, flooding streets and garages, he said. While residents have complained of flooding there for four years, Long said seeing the problem firsthand made him realize something had to be done quickly.

In April, a county-hired engineering firm turned in to the county recommendations for easing the Summit Cove area’s drainage problems. Benson wrote in a report issued Monday that he had been waiting for Keystone to return its comments on the engineering study, but that the waiting period ended Thursday. Monday’s recommendations came from the engineering firm.

Long said he is confident the drainage plans outlined to the board Monday will solve the problems. He urged a spirit of cooperation among all the involved parties.

“We could probably argue until the cows come home about who’s wholly responsible for this thing,” he said. “Nobody here is without guilt, some of us probably more than others. We’ve got to try to work as partners again to get this thing solved, and we’re asking our partner, Keystone, to dig up some serious funds.”

Work at the golf course will include capturing water from near Hole 11 – from which much of the flooding is believed to originate – moving it north to the practice course, and collecting it in a ditch there.

Many area residents believe the flooding occurs when rain falls on a sprinkler-saturated golf course. Nevertheless, Corneillier did not agree when Commissioner Bill Wallace asked if Keystone could water less near Hole 11.

“As far as I know, any irrigation we’ve done has not added to the problems,” he said. “We don’t want it to get into a hard-pan situation, where it doesn’t absorb any water.”

Corneillier did say Keystone would “pay attention” to its watering there as it does on the entire course.

Neighbors believe the golf course does contribute to the problem. Homeowner Janet Bierbaum, who has filed suit against the county for allegedly not enforcing the drainage code in the area, said the resort is obligated to keep most runoff on its property. Only in the event of heavy rains can water leave the course, she said.

“I wish the county had enforced the code from day one and none of this would have happened,” Bierbaum told the commissioners Monday.

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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