Breckenridge’s 128-acre McCain property is its ace in the hole |

Breckenridge’s 128-acre McCain property is its ace in the hole

The Town of Breckenridge's solar garden on the McCain property, a 128-acre parcel that could address a slew of the town's issues, from water treatment and snow storage to room for industrial-commercial properties.
Brian Waldes / Town of Breckenridge |

For nearly 15 years, the McCain property has been Breckenridge’s ace in the hole.

The property, a 128-acre parcel along State Highway 9, sits between Coyne Valley Road and the Fairview Boulevard roundabout. The town purchased it from a private owner for $1 million in 2000, but it’s gone largely untouched since 2012, when the town approved a development-master plan that outlined must-haves on the property, including trails and open space on 38 acres and a mix of governmental uses on nearly 90 acres. Planning was derailed in late 2012 when residents spoke out against a slew of proposed industrial-commercial units on the property.

Yet, planning and potential construction is in limbo until town officials and property stakeholders decide on one major addition: a 16-acre water reservoir.

“The reservoir affects every other land use on this property,” said Mark Truckey, the town’s assistant director of community development who has been heavily involved with the property since the master plan process began. “Once we have that in place, we’ll have a much better idea about what can go there and where it can go.”

“Some of these uses aren’t the sexy projects, but they have to go somewhere. This has been identified as the logical location, because frankly, we’re running out of land everywhere else. It’s one of the last place we can house a lot of these uses.”Mark Truckeyassistant director of community development

The property is currently home to a defunct gravel pit, the town’s solar garden and that’s about it. But it’s ripe for development. The reservoir would be a major boon for the town’s water system, which is already at 90 percent capacity and could easily reach peak levels in the next 5 to 10 years, town officials say.

The reservoir, tentatively dubbed Blue River Lake, will be an auxiliary reservoir for emergencies, such as a natural disaster. It could also kick in during peak visitor times around the summer and winter holidays. It would be connected directly to the Blue River and, depending on final plans, could also be home to the town’s second water plant, a $30-million investment the town wants to tackle in the next five years.

“We have the water rights, we just don’t have the capacity to store all the water the town owns,” Truckey said. “Right now, we’re just going through the process to determine if we’re allowed to build the second water-treatment plant there.”

But before the reservoir can be approved, the town needs to sit down with the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Summit County officials and the Upper Blue Sanitation District. All four stakeholders must first agree on the reservoir and any potential plant, then dig into the specifics: size, location and how it fits into Breckenridge’s water system.

Beyond the reservoir

While the reservoir hangs in the balance, the Breckenridge Town Council is still weighing potential uses at McCain. Not only is the property largely untouched, but officials also believe it could set the tone for growth over the next 15 to 20 years.

“This is kind of a clean slate,” Truckey said. “This property was mined extensively over the last 20 or 30 years for gravel and other resources, so we’ll have to do a fair amount of regarding out there to accommodate these uses. But, we have a lot of potential to start over.”

With 38 acres of open space, McCain is ripe for creative, low-impact planning, Truckey said. The master plan calls for extensive river restoration before more involved construction can begin. Again, after three decades of digging and dredging along the river banks, the town wants to revive the natural landscape first, beginning with trails and parks. One option is to extend the riverside Breckenridge bike path past the Fairview roundabout.

From there, the town is looking at municipal uses, such as snow storage on the far south end of the property near the Satellite Lot. Other proposed uses include space for overflow parking — yet another issue the town is tackling with a permanent parking structure on F Lot downtown — and a solar-garden expansion.

The industrial-commercial units are still on the table — think contractor yards and landscaping storage — but again, Truckey said, planning can’t move forward until the reservoir moves forward.

“Some of these uses aren’t the sexy projects, but they have to go somewhere,” Truckey said. “This has been identified as the logical location because, frankly, we’re running out of land everywhere else. It’s one of the last place we can house a lot of these uses.”

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