SustainableBreck update begins first steps

Cross country skiers enjoy the trails at the Breckenridge Nordic Center on Friday, Feb. 11. The town has begun the process of updating its SustainableBreck plan, which will guide environmental decisions for the next decade.
Ashley Low/For the Summit Daily News

The town of Breckenridge has used its current version of the SustainableBreck plan for the past 10 years, but city leaders met on Tuesday, April 12, to discuss the first steps toward planning the town’s environmental efforts that will last for the next decade.

Town sustainability and parking manager Jessie Burley said the town has succeeded in using its current plan to guide sustainability-related decisions, but she said it is time to update it. Summit County also has its own environmental plan, so the updated version would take those initiatives into account.

“Why are we doing another plan for sustainability is really taking a holistic and comprehensive approach,” she said. “We want to make sure that we are taking the most important elements out of this plan and really getting the most out of all of these plans, essentially, to make sure we’re syncing up the goals, make sure the timelines are all in place and then understanding a better cost-benefit analysis that currently is sort of lacking in these other plans.”

The first portion of the plan update is to conduct two public workshops, one of which will occur Wednesday evening at Colorado Mountain College. Through those, the public will be able to express environmental concerns and ask questions about the plan. Next, consultants will conduct interviews with stakeholders and have meetings with Town Council. Data collection and analysis will occur, as well, along with digital updates of the process. In July, a draft of the plan’s revisions will be presented, and by September, the final version will be completed.

Deanna Weber, the principal in charge of the project, agreed that the previous plan laid the groundwork for the town’s environmental goals. With the new plan, town leadership will get a better look at future choices and what costs they can expect.

“We’re going to basically drill down into probably half a dozen to a dozen different components and do a cost benefit analysis,” she said. “Okay, if we’re going to make this change on recycling, how much does it cost and what’s the benefit? What does the town get back? How does that affect our overall greenhouse gas emissions?”

Jerry Tinianow, who is also working on the update, said that the plan will take a balanced approach, meaning that the group will look at 10 aspects of the community: resource conservation, local economy/livability, transportation, water, housing, forest health, child care, land use, wildlife habitat and recreation.

Mayor Eric Mamula said that focusing on 10 different aspects of the town could be too broad for a sustainability plan. He said that meetings and communication between consultants and council should be a priority in order to get the information and a plan that would be the most valuable for the town.

“My problem with this whole thing is this is a huge broad brush on a lot of stuff that we do every day. We do housing every day,” Mamula said. “We do childcare every day. I don’t need this plan to tell us what our faults on housing are when we have a plan. We have a plan that we’re implementing. I don’t need this plan to tell me what we already know.”

Council member Dick Carleton, however, said that bringing in other aspects of the community could provide a wider range of options when it comes to environmental solutions that may not have been the most obvious.

“I think it’s really ambitious,” he said. “However, I see it more as an opportunity. I don’t think you’re going to help us tackle childcare or housing. But, frankly our schools are not doing a good job with sustainability or teaching environmental stewardship or anything else. If we can start in childcare, I think there’s an opportunity to cross these lines. … I’m interested to hear more because I think there are opportunities in all these areas to connect with solutions.”

Tinianow said that throughout the process, the group will look for gaps in areas to see where the town can improve.

“You’re correct that there are a lot of opportunities here,” Tinianow said. “That’s what this gap analysis is meant to do – to look for the opportunities where there may be synergies or abilities to combine things or to reach across from one area and create a solution in another area. That’s what you do when you’re kind of stepping back and looking at everything at the same time.”

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