Town staff recommends that Breckenridge should keep controversial troll in place for now

Children visit “Isak Heartstone,” a 15-foot wooden troll about a mile up the Wellington Trail, on Monday, Aug. 13, in Breckenridge. After some of the nearby homeowners asked for the troll to be removed, town staff are recommending that Isak Heartstone remain place this winter while staff try to better manage the heavy traffic he’s been creating.
Hugh Carey /

Breckenridge town staff are recommending the town keep Isak Heartstone, a public art installation made of reclaimed wood that has become so popular he’s been creating problems for the people who live nearby.

At the beginning of the month, a handful of homeowners in the Wellington neighborhood told Breckenridge Town Council about the issues they’ve been seeing since the 15-foot wooden troll came to life in August for the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, hoping the town would remove the troll.

The installation, created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo about a mile up the Wellington Trail for a $40,000 commission, is a project designed to remain in place for as long as the troll can withstand the elements and isn’t vandalized.

He’s been so well received, however, that nearby homeowners say “literally hundreds” of people are flocking to the troll on a daily basis. Aside from the heavy foot and vehicle traffic, the homeowners say troll hunters have been getting lost in the neighborhood, circling and parking illegally, sometimes blocking driveways and preventing the homeowners from getting to work.

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In addition to fears for the safety of the children who play in the neighborhood’s alleyways, the homeowners have described a loss of privacy because the trail to the troll sits close behind their homes. Other annoying behaviors such as excessive noise day and night, littering, people failing to pick up after their dogs and trespassing haven’t gone unnoticed, either.

To address these complaints, staff laid out three options in a memo to town council, which is slated to continue discussions about the troll’s future Tuesday. According to the memo, the town could keep the troll and try to better manage the impacts he’s having, move him to another location or take the troll down altogether.

At this point, staff are recommending that the town should keep the troll on the Wellington Trail and continue to monitor the effects he’s having on the community throughout the winter, both positive and negative, before re-evaluating the situation again this spring.

The memo details a number of steps the town has already taken to better manage the problems homeowners have been seeing, including increasing police enforcement, erecting new signage, adding trashcans, distributing flyers and clearly marking the legal parking areas while installing signs to discourage illegal parking in the neighborhood. Beyond that, the town has brought in some new fencing to prevent trespassing and created a “How to Find the Breckenridge Troll” page on the website.

Town council is scheduled to discuss the troll’s future at Tuesday’s work session before going into its regular meeting. The work session begins at 3 p.m. at Breckenridge Town Hall, 150 Ski Hill Road, and the troll discussion is expected to happen sometime between 4:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., according to the agenda.

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