Breckenridge officials host State of the Town address
Breckenridge Town Council went round-robin for the annual State of the Town address on Wednesday, as its seven members covered some of the most important initiatives and projects shaping the town today.
After the council concluded the presentations, the audience posed questions of the elected leaders, prodding them for info on everything from the town’s efforts to build a new high-speed fiber network in Breckenridge and the water treatment plant to the trailside troll and the town’s long-awaited parking garage.
Frustrated with their internet service and residents reportedly not getting the speeds they’re paying for, council said the town’s high-speed fiber network isn’t about putting any current providers, like Comcast and CenturyLink, out of business.
The town’s network, coined Fiber9600, is under construction, and the evidence is apparent. However, even though the town is partnering with ALLO Communications to be the network’s exclusive provider initially, though, council said the project should only promote competition.
Meanwhile residents wanted to know if ALLO will have a local presence with support staff in Breckenridge and when the first customers might start signing up for service. To answer their questions, council said ALLO will have a local storefront and goal hope is the first homes and businesses could come online as early as this fall.
Throughout the State of the Town, council detailed multiple projects worth tens of millions of dollars over the coming years, but they acknowledged that nothing in Breckenridge garnered more pubic attention over the last year than the town’s trailside troll named, Isak Heartstone.
After the hugely popular sculpture made of reclaimed wood drew giant crowds and was taken down in November with the town citing safety concerns, the larger-than-life troll has been reborn by the Stephen C. West Ice Arena.
“Most importantly for you to know, he’s back,” said Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe as she again encouraged people to be respectful of the town and “leave no trace” when they go to visit the troll.
The area remains off-limits to the public while the town constructs a new trail specific to the sculpture, which is expected to be ready for public viewing in June.
Breckenridge Creative Arts, or BreckCreate, has existed since 2014 as the agency that manages and programs the town’s portfolio of art-related venues, but it’s in the process of being overhauled.
Over the years, council said, BreckCreate has created a “tremendous amount of success,” but with the organization’s president and CEO moving on and BreckCreate coming of age, council thinks this is a good time to revisit the startup organization to see if the goals still work. After bringing in an outside consultant to look at BreckCreate and resident arts organizations, council is pushing for greater collaboration.
Breckenridge has “an unbelievable portfolio of water” Mayor Eric Mamula said as he called the town’s water resources “the envy” of many municipalities much larger than Breckenridge.
But Breckenridge has a couple major projects on the water front, including a new $42 million water treatment plant that’s under construction now and subsequent repairs to an aging dam that are to follow.
Council said the new plant is halfway done, and they’ve spent half of the budget so the project is tracking as planned. They anticipate the plant will be complete by summer 2020 with the capacity to handle 3 million gallons per day.
That’s good news because, in addition to giving the town a second option for water, the new plant will allow Breckenridge to turn off the town’s only existing source by the Goose Pasture Tarn, which is a necessary step to repair the earthen dam that holding back the tarn.
The mayor remembers last year’s State of the Town, when much of the night’s focus went to the town’s relationship with Vail Resorts and Breckenridge’s efforts to build a new parking garage.
What a difference a year makes. The town recently finalized a lease with the company that owns Breckenridge Ski Resort and, as Mamula talked about the project, he said that the town is about to make good on a promise made during negotiations over the town’s lift-ticket tax from a previous council to increase parking in the downtown core.
Now, the town and Vail Resorts are in the planning process to build the parking garage on a piece of resort-owned property, and Mamula called the project “super exciting.” He added that Breckenridge and officials from the ski resort are working together much better these day, and that’s been nice.
The “STR” acronym has become part of the lexicon in Breckenridge. Seeing the impacts of the rentals on many of their neighbors, town leaders put new regulations on the short-term rental units last August.
The driving forces behind the new measures were complaints regarding issues like trash, noise and parking, but as the town sees other impacts of the units continuing to pile up, council expressed a willingness to start looking at more stringent regulations.
Other discussion topics covered the town’s sustainability efforts, its new destination management plan, renovations at the ice rink, a push to cut down unkempt dog poop and growth of the town’s open space program.
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