Community group gets needed signatures to qualify for a ballot measure that would raise mil levies and form a public improvement district to pay for new landscaping and signs along the ‘Keystone Parkway’
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A group of citizens in the Keystone say there is widespread support for their plans to beautify a three-mile stretch of the Highway 6 corridor through the resort with native-plant landscaping, signs, banners and solar-powered lights with what they are now calling the Keystone Parkway project. The main intersections along the parkway leading to the resort will be the focal points for creating a welcoming atmosphere and a sense of community.
The committee, led by Char Bloom and Connie Gruber, has gathered the required signatures of support for a ballot measure that would create a local improvement district to fund the $5.6 million project. Next week, the county commissioners will hold a public hearing to decide whether to put the question to about 3,300 qualified Keystone-area voters in November.
“We feel like the information is pretty well out there,” Gruber said, describing extensive outreach efforts to homeowner associations and neighborhood groups at the resort during the past few months.
Gruber and Bloom said the comments they’ve heard run about three-to-one or four-to-one in favor of the project, but they acknowledged that some residents and property owners have raised valid questions about the cost and about water issues associated with the tentative plan.
As proposed, the ballot question would ask voters to increase their property taxes by four mils to repay the bonds that will fund the initial investment. After that, the rate would drop to one mil to pay the ongoing maintenance cost, estimated at about $105,000 annually.
One mil is equal to $1 per $1,000 of actual value. At current tax rates, the four mil assessment on residential property comes out to about $32 per year for every $100,000 of assessed value, or $96 for a $300,000 property (dropping to $24 annually in the maintenance phase).
The tax rate on commercial property and vacant land is higher, so the estimated tax liability is $348 annually per $300,000 in actual value (dropping to $87 per year for maintenance).
If the measure passes in November, work could begin next spring and be completed by the fall of 2012. Any registered Colorado voter who owns real or personal property within the proposed district is eligible to vote, as are persons designated as representatives of a corporate entity owning property in the district. The public improvement district would be led by an advisory board working with the Summit County commissioners.
For Bloom and Gruber, the project is about civic pride and the enhancement of the resort community. Their vision for the beautification includes exclusive use of native plants that won’t require much water once they’re established.
“No turf or bluegrass,’ Gruber said, adding that the plan is to make the project as “green” as possible, using local materials and local contractors to do the work, if possible.
To address the technical questions about water, the committee is working with the Snake River Water District to re-allocate water that’s currently being used to irrigate the existing landscaping in the highway medians.
And while the two women acknowledged that there’s never a good time to ask for a tax increase, they said that, in the current economy, they’re hoping that bids for the project would come in at an attractive price.
The Keystone Citizens League, a civic group representing a wide range of residents and property owners at the resort, has said the proposal is worthy of the consideration of Keystone property owners. Many of the documents relating to the formation of a public improvement district are online at the league’s website — Click here.
Get more information at the July 13 Board of County Commissioners meeting. An agenda is posted online here.
Contacts for the public improvement district:
Char Bloom, firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 412-1616
Connie Gruber, email@example.com, (970) 389-6788
Bill Goslau, firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 468-6199
Summit County contacts:
Assistant manager Thad Noll, ThadN@co.summit.co.us (970) 453-3438
Engineering dept. director Rick Pocius, email@example.com (970) 668-4210
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