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Summit County: 3 meetings on Tenderfoot trails plan this week

Forest Service denies request for comment period extension; locals scrambling to study proposal, formulate input

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The Forest Service wants to build 13 miles of new trails on Tenderfoot Mountain primarily for motorized use.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Summit County officials are scrambling to finalize comments on a Forest Service proposal to build 13 miles of new dirt bike trails on Tenderfoot Mountain after their request to extend the comment period was rejected.

At issue is a controversial plan to add a motorized trail system in the hills east of Highway 6 between Dillon and Keystone. County officials say a vast majority of residents in the area oppose the trail system. Forest Service planners say they are obligated to meet demand from all user groups.

Forest Service officials say new planning regulations adopted under the Bush administration prevent them from extending comment periods on environmental assessments. Conservation groups criticized the rules before they were adopted, saying they could inhibit public participation — and the Tenderfoot trail plan is a clear example of that. Continue reading

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Summit County, Denver Water tussle over Dam Road work

A series of construction projects slated this summer along Dillon Dam Road has become the focal point for a tussle over contracting.

County trying to coordinate contracting for projects to minimize impacts; Denver Water chooses Front Range contractor

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite some improvements in overall relations between Summit County and Denver Water, the county commissioners Tuesday expressed frustration with the lack of cooperation on a project that’s important locally — the enhancement of security measures along Dillon Dam Road that would enable the road to stay open all night.

Additionally, Denver Water will be doing some other work related to the outlet works at the Dam, and the enlargement of Old Dillon Reservoir, set to start this spring, will also require construction activities along the road between Dillon and Frisco.

Assistant county manager Thad Noll traveled to Denver in early April to try and coordinate work on the projects with Denver water in hopes of minimizing impacts to travelers on the road, and to encourage Denver Water to include local contractors in the bidding process for the work. But at the BOCC work session, the commissioners learned that Denver Water was moving ahead with selecting a Denver-based contractor for the security modifications. Continue reading

Summit County: Public hearing on mail-in voting

No more ballot box, as Summit County moves to mail-in ballots for off-year elections.

‘We can’t run democracy on the cheap’

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A move to mail-in voting is touted as a win for convenience and a cost-savings for Summit County, but watchdog groups say the switch has to be done with care to avoid impacts to access that could skew the voting demographic.

“We can’t run democracy on the cheap. When it comes to voting, we have to make sure that access trumps cost, said Jennie Flanagan, director of Colorado Common Cause.

The Summit County Commissioners will hold an April 12 public hearing on a resolution to authorize a mail-only ballot in the upcoming November election. Continue reading

Summit County: More government belt-tightening

County looks to cut costs by privatizing fleet services.

Fleet maintenance to be privatized, Frisco motor vehicle office closed

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —  Belt-tightening at the county government level continued this week with the announcement that vehicle maintenance operations will be privatized.

Assistant county manager Scott Vargo said the change will result in the loss of three management jobs, for a savings of about $100,000 annually. The county expects to save another $600,000 per year in operational costs with the switch.

Previous budget cuts trimmed about $635,000 in operational costs and $1.35 million in personnel costs from the county’s budget.

Vargo said there no more major cuts on the horizon.

“We hope the rest of the county staff can rest a little easier now,” he said. He expects that all 11 mechanics working at the county facility will be rehired by First Vehicle Services, a private company that provides similar services for other municipalities, including Thornton. Continue reading

Summit County: BOCC looks at updated emergency plan

Updates to a local emergency operations plan are based partially on lessons learned from the Hurricane Katrina response, with a focus on better coordination among local state and federal agencies

Summit County from Tenderfoot Mountain.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Summit County is at a moderate risk for a domestic terror attack local officials say in a draft version of an updated emergency operations plan that’s up for discussion at a county commissioner work session this week (Feb. 1, 9:30 a.m. at the County Courthouse in Breckenridge).

The document uses the 1998 arson attack at Vail Ski Area as a precedent for those concerns, explaining that similar “land use, development and expansion plans in Summit County have a potential to illicit demonstration actions.” Other critical infrastructure in the county could also be a target for terrorism, according to the plan, which doesn’t identify any specific targets, citing a need for confidentiality.

While the likeliness of a terror attack can be debated, there are other very real emergency concerns that the updated plan addresses in the context of modern emergency response procedures, according to Joel Cochran, the county’s emergency services manager.

The existing plan dates back to the 1990s, and while the general public probably won’t notice any difference when the new version is approved, it will give local emergency responders more direction under federal guidelines that were developed after Hurricane Katrina, Cochran said. That includes greater coordination with state and federal agencies, as well as updated policies and procedures for local declarations of emergencies, he added. Continue reading

Local officials question recent tunnel backups

Recent traffic stops at the Eisenhower Tunnel's west portal have lasted as long as 40 minutes, with traffic backed up to the Frisco exit.

CDOT says it’s business as usual, with the focus on public safety

By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — When traffic on the eastbound approach to the Eisenhower Tunnel backed up as far as the Frisco exit in early January,  local officials got an earful from travelers who got stuck in the jam. Now, the county commissioners want to ask Colorado Department of Transportation officials about traffic management through the tunnel to see of they’re doing anything different to cause greater delays on the west side of the Divide.

The commissioners briefly discussed the issue at a Jan. 26 work session, with an eye toward next week’s quarterly meeting with CDOT, when they plan to raise the issue with state highway officials.

“This is different from what we’ve typically seen,” said commissioner Thomas Davidson, referring to some of the early January jams.

“It’s not getting rave reviews from the public,” said assistant county manager Scott Vargo. “What is the purpose of metering? To move the traffic jam from the east side to the west side?” Vargo said.

Continue reading

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