Keystone residents express need for more control: ‘The only solution is to incorporate’

Keystone Citizen’s League president presents on why Keystone should become a town

Summit County residents gathered on Wednesday June 15 at Warren Station in Keystone for the Keystone Citizen's League Annual Meeting. Residents young and old listened, ask questions, and learned about what it would mean if Keystone turned from an unincorporated community of Summit County into a town.
Eiliana Wright/The Summit Daily

Keystone locals Sarah and Cyrus Keel sat at the back of the room during the Keystone Citizen’s League meeting on Wednesday night. Their young son, Cashius, who was snuggled up in Sarah’s lap for the majority of the meeting, fell asleep to the sound of league President Ken Riley’s voice and questions from over 120 Summit County attendees.

The meeting, held on June 15, was hosted by the Keystone Citizen’s League, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to discuss the benefits of turning Keystone from an unincorporated part of Summit County into a town. 

Sarah and Cyrus own Keystoner Mountain coffee shop and gluten-free bakery located at 23024 U.S. Highway 6 in Keystone, and have lived in the community for the past six years. As full-time residents and business owners, they said they knew of the initiative and have supported it.

“We want to have more say in our community than we feel we currently do,” Sarah said.

Along with supporting the incorporation benefits like infrastructure growth, Sarah said they also support the initiative because, as a business, they have experienced many frustrations. Cyrus added that even something as small as adding a sandwich board on the sidewalk outside of their coffee shop has become a hassle.

But Riley spoke about much more than just business regulations. He has been working on this legislation for years and was inspired to keep pushing the initiative after seeing how difficult securing finances can be for an unincorporated community. 

“Summit county really isn’t structured to meet our needs,” Riley said after he claimed that Keystone has nearly doubled in size over the past 25 years. 

Riley said the lack of funding has caused roads like Highway 6 and Rasor Drive to suffer out-of-date improvements, difficulty with providing a reliable police presence and there has been little support for plowing roads in the community.  

However, one big question remained: Can Keystone become a town without having to raise taxes? To that, Riley said, “If the answer was no, you have to raise taxes, I wouldn’t be here.” 

It is possible to incorporate without raising taxes, Riley said, due the revenue they would receive back from the county as a town.

Riley said the league has spoken with Summit County commissioners, the towns of Blue River, Dillon and Silverthorne and Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons.

One caveat, however, is that the league has not heard back from Vail Resorts. 25 years ago, when the league members met with Vail in the interest of incorporation, Riley reported that they disagreed with the initiative.

“As a result of that — times were different back then — the committee decided to stand down and stop the initiative,” Riley said. 

And now that Keystone is trying again, Riley said, “They’re concerned it’s going to cost them money. They’re concerned we’re going to put lodging taxes in. … They’ve turned absolutely deafly silent on the subject.”

Attendees were concerned about this, and many people asked questions about Vail’s involvement in the community and what it would mean if Keystone did become a town.

Riley said the league will need another $5,000 to $10,000 to get through the election, where they will need petition signatures from at least 150 property owners that are also registered to vote. There are only 350 in the Keystone community.

“That’s why we’re personally going to visit every one of those and talk to them,” Riley said.

Signature collections will begin in early July, and Riley encouraged people to become volunteers and discuss incorporation with neighbors to spread the word.

“What it really does, is put you in charge — you, the residents. It allows you to chart the course of the future,” Riley said. “We’re convinced a town provides the only path for meeting our near and long-term needs. … The only solution is to incorporate.”

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