Re: Breckenridge town deals with VRI fairly (SDN, May 2)
I appreciate Ernie Blake’s taking the time to write down some of the specifics of VRI’s deal with the town. His facts pretty much match those I mentioned in my letter of April 12. Where we differ is in the interpretation; I am still of the opinion that Breckenridge has heavily subsidized and promoted VRI’s development efforts. As an example, Mayor Blake states that the town’s $6.7 million donation toward gondola construction will be recovered via the town’s 1 percent real estate transfer tax and property taxes collected from the peaks 7/8 developments. By this logic, anyone looking to build a house in town should stop by town hall and collect a $10,000 check with a promise it will be paid back by the buyer when the house is sold. We should at least have gotten naming rights for our money. My entry is “Mr. Boreal Toad’s Wild Ride.”Regarding the 48 units of density transfer from the completed Mountain Thunder development; this was a gift worth at least $2 million. That density could never have been used as it was tied to a specific, completed project. The TDR program or some undeveloped site would have been a more appropriate sending venue. Mayor Blake’s letter also mentions that there are 201 SFEs still attached to the Sawmill and Watson lots. That works out to about 241,000 square feet of development potential at the base of the gondola. I expect VRI will push hard to make much of that commercial space since this will be a very high traffic area. Effectively, this area will be the gateway to Breckenridge as it is where most of the parking will be. That’s probably not going to be good for locally owned businesses. After a day of skiing, why walk to town when you are already at the mall.I would also note that should this development occur, preserving the 1,560 parking spots Mayor Blake mentions will require construction of a parking structure. I think it was Roger McCarthy who estimated the cost at $76,000 per slot at one of the open houses on Peak 7 development. Where is the money going to come from for this? Is the town going to have to float a bond to pay for it? One thing is for sure; this would be premium pay parking ala town of Vail. Almost inevitably, the town would need to initiate pay parking on all of their lots since most day skiers will opt for free parking if it is available. How will this distort visitor traffic patterns around locally owned businesses? Will locals still come to town? Will there be any locals?The new city council (and some of the old) is doing a great job addressing the very difficult housing & childcare issues we face but I would urge extreme caution in dealing with the highly organized and sophisticated lobbying efforts of VRI. These are well paid, full-time professionals whose mission is to slant legislative decisions in favor of VRI. There is a lot of money on the table and they are out to win.In closing, I would like to share a thought I had while watching the Spring Musical over at Breckenridge Elementary. While the kids were singing their hearts out, I wondered how many of them will be able to live here when they grow up. My two daughters, both born and raised here, will not. I suspect most of those kids up on stage will not be able to live here either. Do we want to build for future generations or do we just blindly put together a simulacrum village to enhance the bottom line of our corporate masters? It’s our decision.
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