Summit County commissioners hesitant about proposed nonprofit campus in Breckenridge

Officials are skeptical the new location will have the desired impact in making services more convenient for clients

The 128-acre McCain property pictured May 19 in Breckenridge is under development. The town of Breckenridge has offered about 5 acres on the property for a proposed 15,000-square-foot nonprofit campus.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

Summit County is home to a plethora of critical care services: Building Hope Summit County is the community’s go-to for mental health resources, Summit Community Care Clinic’s sliding-fee scale assists individuals in accessing primary health care, and the Family & Intercultural Resource Center offers a robust list of human services.

What if all of these organizations were housed under one roof?

That’s the vision of the leaders at each one of these nonprofits. Earlier this year, community leaders began brainstorming what a nonprofit campus could look like, and the town of Breckenridge has offered about 5 acres on its McCain property for the proposed 15,000-square-foot building. Partners such as the town, Building Hope and the Care Clinic are largely supportive of the project, but others, including Summit County officials, are apprehensive it’ll have the desired impact.

Brianne Snow, executive director of the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, presented an update about the project during a Summit Board of County Commissioners work session meeting Tuesday, Sept. 14. During the presentation, she said 38% of the resource center’s clients currently find it difficult to access its services. Through a recent survey, the center found that this outlook is relatively unchanged as it relates to the new location. About 40% of survey respondents said moving to Breckenridge would make it difficult to access services.

Snow said that figure should not be a point of contention and that many of the center’s clients have since moved around the county and don’t always live on the north side of town like they might have in the past.

“Something that comes to mind is the amount of people that say it would be difficult to access services in Breckenridge are not much different than the people that find it difficult to access services currently,” Snow wrote in a text message. “I think that’s an important point, and I wouldn’t want that to be confused.”

Though this may be the case, Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue said she’s still apprehensive about the project’s location.

“I sort of have a vision in my brain that when we actually move this one forward … all the towns would be involved (to) really try and focus on how do we most effectively meet the needs of the nonprofit community — because I certainly am empathetic to those struggles — but also the needs of our whole community,” Pogue said. “When I see this 40% saying it would be difficult and those folks are our most vulnerable — they are our single parents or our folks without transportation — I’m really stuck on that data point.”

During the presentation, Snow said the respondents who said it would be difficult to access services at the proposed location also reported having limited or no transportation, said they are a single parent or were speaking specifically about accessing food.

In addition to these struggles, Snow said some clients face other barriers to the center’s current framework. Some of those barriers include finding the time to access services and that the center is spread out across four locations. Snow pointed out that the center’s food market is in Dillon, housing appointments are made in Silverthorne and its mental health navigation services and thrift store are operated out of Breckenridge.

The hope is that this one-stop shop would make it easier on clients to access not only the resource center’s services but also the services of Building Hope and the Summit Community Care Clinic. Plus, Snow said she believes the addition of new workforce housing on the south side of Breckenridge is another strong argument for why the location of this project is ideal.

“We see a shift right away in our clientele when new workforce housing opens up,” Snow said. “We see the shift almost immediately.”

According to Snow’s presentation, 27% of the center’s clients live in Breckenridge or Blue River, 20% live in Silverthorne, 16% live in Dillon Valley and 9% live in Summit Cove. The remaining 28% live in Frisco, Keystone, Dillon and Wildernest.

While Pogue and Summit County Commissioner Josh Blanchard commended the resource center for trying to meet the evolving needs of the community, both expressed their reservations with the project.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” Pogue said. “It’s fraught with challenges, and while I do recognize that Breck is well intended in their desire to bring these services to that part of the county and make it easier long term for nonprofits, I am conflicted as to whether or not this is the right time or the right process for this conversation right now.”

Blanchard agreed, and said that he was “cautiously optimistic” and would like to see additional data and information as the project moves forward.

“I will certainly say and echo that this is definitely a challenging time. … I don’t think there’s an easy solution to better serve the community, and this is one opportunity that I’m glad we’re exploring and looking at,” he said. “I’ll be excited to see where everything goes in the next couple weeks.”

Moving forward, Snow said she and her team will work to identify a capital strategy, which could include selling some of the nonprofit’s current buildings and applying for grants. Possible donations toward the project could include land valued at about $1.5 million from Breckenridge, $450,000 worth of services from Rockridge Building Co. and $200,000 worth of services from Allen Guerra Architecture. It’s expected the team will be asking the county for a contribution in the future.

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