Some Summit County infrastructure projects are nearing the finish line while others are slow going

More than a dozen projects, including a new library, child care center and electric vehicle fleet complex, are moving forward

An electric bus is seen in Summit County on Oct. 19, 2020. County officials are moving forward on a sprawling $42 million project to construct a new electric fleet storage and charging facility also set to include some form of workforce housing.
Sawyer D’Argonne/Summit Daily News archive

From a new library to a sprawling electric vehicle storage and charging complex, major infrastructure projects are moving forward in Summit County — albeit at different paces.

County officials discussed progress and setbacks on a slew of initiatives during a Feb. 21 Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting. With budgets for projects ranging from a few hundred thousand to tens of millions of dollars, most are likely to see completion this year — though some are likely to take longer.

For both a new 17,000-square-foot Summit County Search & Rescue facility, budgeted at $7.9 million, and a renovation of the Silverthorne-based North Branch Library, budgeted at $3.5 million, the county is “not where we hope to be, but we are where we need to be,” said Dale Stein, capital projects manager. 

Some challenges that have slowed the projects’ construction include unanticipated fees, price increases for some materials and current winter conditions. The library is expected to be completed in September while the rescue facility likely won’t be finished until February of next year, Stein said. 

Commissioner Josh Blanchard applauded the fundraising efforts of the Search & Rescue team, which raised over $1.5 million for the new facility.

“It certainly shows the community’s support for this project,” Blanchard said. 

Current fundraising for the library was projected to be $1 million but currently sits at just over $650,000, though Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said the county has agreed to move forward with that project even if the full $1 million is not raised. 

Other projects include a remodeling of the county’s Emergency Operations Center (budgeted at $2.1 million); a new 9,600-square-foot materials recovery facility (budgeted at $4 million); noise mitigation for the Summit County Shooting Range (budgeted at $1.1 million) and a day care facility at the Village at Wintergreen apartments (budgeted at $4.25 million).

The latter, however, is currently on hold as the county awaits the results of a March 28 vote by Keystone residents and property owners that will determine if the area will become a self-governed town or remain part of unincorporated Summit County. 

But regardless of the election’s outcome, commissioners expressed uncertainty about that site’s future. At 5,000 square feet, county officials said the Wintegreen area may not be the most suitable location for the center. 

“I think that we just have real concern about how small this site is and if it’s really what we want to build,” Lawrence said, adding that commissioners have discussed the possibility of building a larger center at an undeveloped site known as Lake Hill that sits outside the town of Frisco where the county has contemplated building workforce housing

Commissioner Tamara Pogue said the Wintergreen site lends itself “to infill development for housing” more than it does a childcare site.

Another child care facility in Silverthorne is continuing to move forward with county officials hopeful it will open this fall. At about 8,800-square-feet, the center is expected to support around 70 children a day. 

Though it’s nearing the finish line, commissioners acknowledged the project has taken longer than they’d hope to get off the ground. And more still may need to happen even after the center opens. 

“There were a number of delays,” Lawrence said, “and that has continued to happen from here on out.”

The center’s budget has nearly doubled from a projected $4.5 million in 2018 to roughly $8.5 million currently. COVID-19 and rising labor and supply costs contributed to that increase, officials said. 

As the project nears completion, more requests have been made, to which Lawrence said, “We’re maxed out on the budget,” while adding that the town of Silverthorne, which has been a partner on the project, could work on any future additions. 

By far the county’s most costly project — a new complex to house the county’s electric vehicle fleet, electric charging stations and some form of workforce housing — does not have an end date, according to officials, and remains in an conceptual stage.

At $42 million, the county is mostly paying for the project with a $34.7 million from the Colorado Department of Transportation — provided by the Biden administration’s more than $1.6 billion Low or No Emission Vehicle Program — with officials eyeing preliminary work and excavation to begin in September in an unincorporated area outside of Frisco.

Commissioner Tamara Pogue said she’s concerned about a lack of specifics about how the site will support new housing, adding, “I feel like we’ve missed a huge opportunity on workforce housing on this project.”

County staff said they plan to increase the amount of housing the project can support to the “maximum extent possible,” and said that will likely come more into focus once an architecture firm is hired. 

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