Town, ski area come to landmark agreement
What the agreement does:
? Allows for 131 residential units at Peak 7, 340 at Peak 8
? Allows for 15,000 square feet of retail, rental and restaurant space; 60,000 square feet of skier services
? Transfers 240 single-family home equivalent units off Sawmill, Watson and Parkway Center parking lots to support Peaks 7 and 8 development plans
?Lets the ski area proceed with construction of a six-passenger Peak 7 lift and replace Lift 4 with a four-passenger lift (subject to U.S. Forest Service approval)
? Calls for resort to contribute 65 acres of wetlands as perpetual open space
? Calls for a 25 percent reduction in the resort’s planned Peaks 7 and 8 development
? Calls for resort and town to partner in construction of $16 million gondola, $4 million Skyway
? Requires resort to commit to 2,500 parking spaces
? Requires resort to contribute $200,000 toward construction and/or support of childcare facilities
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula and Breckenridge Ski Area Chief Operating Officer Roger McCarthy came together recently at Mamula’s house to create a deal they’d sparred over for about two years. They formalized the agreement Monday night at a special meeting, topped with a champagne toast.
Mamula called the agreement between the town and ski area “a landmark.”
“That’s a huge turnaround,” Mamula said. “I’ve been an antagonist toward the ski area in this whole process. Roger and I finally got together at my kitchen table and hammered out a deal over a couple of hours.
“Then we got the council and his people involved. I think they’re doing things no other ski area has done. Vail’s given up a significant amount of density and committed to all the parking we asked for two years ago.”
The agreement, signed during a special Monday night meeting, spurs key development on Peaks 7 and 8, while protecting wetlands, improving parking and reducing the overall proposed density of ski resort properties. The document replaces a memorandum of understanding the two parties created in February.
Monday’s meeting turned into a bit of a lovefest, with Mamula and McCarthy exchanging compliments about their role in creating the document.
Mamula called the agreement “an excellent way to distance ourselves from these (other) phony, souless villages” and praised McCarthy for his role in bringing it together.
“There’s one person who really pulled this off for us – Roger,” he said. “He had the courage to walk between two groups: Avon (Vail Resorts’ headquarters) and us. That’s the courage required to get something like this done.”
McCarthy, in turn, showered the mayor with praise.
“Sam wanted to be able to walk down Main Street and tell his grandchildren, “I wasn’t the one that screwed this place up.’ That drove us to work and create a balance. Sam’s kitchen table will go down in history as the place where the deal was done.”
“My hope is the boys over at Copper Mountain will follow your lead … as they prepare to put in a lot of development over there,” said Councilmember Dave Hinton.
Champagne toasts followed the council’s motion to accept the agreement.
It includes a financial agreement to help fund construction of the gondola and the Skyway, a half-mile skiway that takes skiers from Peak 8 all the way into town. The 4,330-foot-long gondola will travel from the Watson parking lot up Peak 8.
It also guarantees Vail Resorts will provide no less than 2,500 skier parking spaces in various Vail Resorts-owned parking lots: Sawmill, Watson and Parkway Center lots, Peaks 7 and 8, Beaver Run and a parcel in the Airport subdivision.
The agreement solidifies some development issues, as well, allowing the ski resort to move some density from the parking lots in town to the base of the ski area. In exchange for that flexibility, the ski area agreed to drop allowed density on parcels not currently proposed for development.
To comply with the town’s development code – which requires a developer to give something back to the town in exchange for development rights – Vail Resorts is offering Breckenridge $200,000 to support child care and dedicating 64.7 acres to open space in Cucumber Gulch.
The proposed agreement doesn’t mean development will get under way any time soon, though construction of two new lifts – a Peak 7 six-pack and the high-speed quad Lift 4 on Peak 9 – is likely to occur this summer.
“This was a framework for how to move ahead to getting into new details,” said town Manager Tim Gagen. “On the development side, they could start preparing plans for some of their improvements on (Peaks) 7 and 8 anytime. They’re probably six to eight months away from presenting final plans that still need to be approved.
“They could start designing the gondola and start applying for permits for that. And the one element they could start on right away is to go ahead and put in their lift system for the Peak 7 trails.”
Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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