Week in Summit: Record setting year for Adopt an Angel program
This year’s Silverthorne Adopt an Angel program will impact a record number of families after providing gifts for 562 children last year.
According to Silverthorne Police sergeant Misty Higby, nearly 800 local youngsters have been registered through several local agencies including the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), Social Services and the Summit County School District. The department estimates the program will assist more than 300 families this holiday season.
“We have never had anything like that, ever,” she said. “It’s a crazy amount of people.“
The outpouring of holiday cheer is made possible by individual donations and support from local businesses. Numerous stores throughout Summit County will have Christmas trees on display with wooden angels listing the age and gender of children who will benefit from the community’s spirit of giving.
Summit County residents can pick up an ornament, purchase a gift and bring it unwrapped to local fire, police and ambulance departments. Both the “angel” and the gift must be delivered by Friday, Dec. 11.
“Every year, it makes a difference in the type of Christmas kids are able to have,” FIRC development and volunteer director Anita Overmyer said.
Donations are being accepted for children from infancy up to 15 years of age. After being sorted, presents will be displayed at the Silverthorne Pavilion on Dec. 16 for parents of approved families to make their selections.
“Starting the 14th, we will make the Silverthorne Pavillion look like a toy store,” Silverthorne Police chief Mark Hanschmidt said. “We want to make sure we’re getting all these gifts to right folks, to children who are in need.”
The Adopt an Angel program started in 1994, with officers originally delivering presents directly to the doors of Silverthorne families.
“Obviously, we have a high demand,” Higby said. “It’s based on helping our community, and there’s a need out there that a lot of people are not aware of.”
With a large number of gift recipients this year, she said both donations and volunteers would be appreciated. The department will need volunteers to help families pick and wrap gifts the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 16. To sign up, call the Silverthorne Police Department at (970) 262-7320.
“Whatever anyone is willing to do, we would gladly take,” she said.
BLUE RIVER HOUSING ISSUES
Residents of Blue River filled Town Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 1 following rumors the town would amend the municipal code to prohibit lock-off apartments in single-family homes.
Mayor Lindsay Backas had a testy exchange with numerous residents who were upset over a supposed change to housing regulations.
“The rules and regulations have not changed at all,” she told the agitated crowd.
Backas told those in attendance the planning commission meeting was not a forum for public comment, and there was false information being circulated. She said that, in fact, the municipal code already restricts lock-off, or accessory apartments, in R-1 zoned areas.
The municipal code defines R-1 as a low-density residential district where land development is restricted to preserve open spaces and maintain the “essential character and value” of the town. An accessory apartment is defined as a separate unit within or an integral part of a residential home used solely as a rental unit.
“We’re not changing anything; we’re updating and trying to clear up language the town established in 1964,” she said.
After relenting and listening to concerns that residents who rent space in single homes may be forced to relocate, Backas said the town has received complaints in recent months related to resident density issues.
“We’re hearing from families who notice more garbage and more cars,” she said.
The town does allow short- and long-term rentals, as well as roommates, but the municipal code restricts separate apartments in the same building within R-1 zones.
The town code has conditions for renting or leasing property: No more than one person for each 400 square feet of gross floor area, no more than two persons per bedroom, and no more than three on the property unless a variance is granted.
“Leaving garbage out, and parking on the roads are the chief complaints,” she said. “We have dirt roads; our infrastructure can’t support two or more families in a house.”
In recent months, the town has begun issuing $300 fines when it became aware of homes that were subdivided to make an additional rental space. Residents worried the new approach would result in renters being displaced and, in some cases, would eliminate an income source for local families to pay mortgages.
Blue River resident Christine Armitage said a lot of her neighbors share the same concerns over what the town seemingly deemed acceptable until this October.
“There’s too many homeless people already,” she said. “Many of these kids are living on couches.”
When asked why the town has started enforcing a long-ignored rule, Backas said there is now somebody to handle enforcement.
Blue River Town Marshal Brian Brady, who resigned as the interim police chief in Dillon on Feb. 19, 2014, has been issuing tickets in response to complaints from neighbors.
“They’re the ones making the complaints to us,” Backas said.
VAIL RESORTS PLEDGES FUNDS FOR WORKER HOUSING
With affordable workforce housing one of the hot button issues in Summit County, on Wednesday, Dec. 2, Vail Resorts announced it would spend $30 million to assist mountain resorts it operates in Colorado, California and Utah address the ongoing challenge.
Vail Resorts plans to partner with local municipalities and community business leaders to launch several projects, and has yet to decide how to divvy the funds between its properties in three states.
“We are ready to go,” said Mike Goar, Keystone Resort’s chief operating officer. “We all recognize the crunch for affordable housing in Summit County.”
Goar said that the availability of rental units for workers is almost non-existent.
Although timelines have yet to be established, county officials hope to begin talks with Vail Resorts next week to hammer out details.
“It’s really exciting to see one of the largest employers in the county take such a strong leadership role on this critical matter,” said Gary Martinez, county manager in Summit County. “This is really great. Big kudos to Vail.”
In 2013 Summit County commissioned a housing needs assessment, which predicted that by 2017 the Upper Blue River Basin would require at least 200 and maybe as many as 370 rental units, along with 280 for-sale properties.
By 2018 the Town of Breckenridge anticipates completing several affordable housing projects, including: Pinewood Village II, Huron Landing, Denison Placers and Pinewood 2. Despite these projects, the housing needs assessment indicates there will be a need for between 70 and 240 additional rental units.
“This is a critical need in our community,” said Kim Dykstra, director of communications for the town of Breckenridge. “We look to some of the business community to help solve this. That’s not just on Vail Resorts; this is a community challenge.”
COPPER MOUNTAIN HALFPIPE OPENS
Last week the halfpipe at Copper Mountain Resort opened, becoming the first 22-foot superpipe to open in North America. The Main Vein Superpipe was open to the public from 1-4 p.m. every day last week, with the exception of Wednesday, when it hosted a U.S.A. Snowboard Association event.
Vail athletes like halfpipe skiers Taylor Seaton and Broby Leeds, and snowboarder Rakai Tait, have been using Copper’s pipe to prepare for upcoming events. Seaton and Leeds will compete in the Dew Tour in Breckenridge Dec. 12; Tait, 16, will compete in the U.S. Revolution Tour’s first stop at Copper next week. The Rev Tour is the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s stepping-stone program, where young athletes can transition into World Cup level competitions. It’s focused on athletes 13 to 19 years old.
“It’s exciting because it’s the first big competition of the year,” Tait said. “(Rev Tour athletes) are lucky we get to see real competition this early in the year right here where we live.”
Unlike in past years when Copper’s halfpipe hosted a World Cup level event — the Grand Prix — during December, the event will skip Copper, leaving next week’s Rev Tour stop as the premier December event for the resort’s halfpipe.
Tait, an Eagle resident, is excited for the chance to shine in Copper’s halfpipe at the Rev Tour.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to be this year, but in the past it’s had pros who’ve been to the Olympics and stuff,” he said. “So I’m just hoping to make finals.”
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