A Closer Look At Tabernash | SkyHiNews.com
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A Closer Look At Tabernash

S.F. Strayer
Grand County Homes and Properties

When this part of the West was still wild, Tabernash (named after a Ute Indian) was only known as a stagecoach stop. According to a local historian, this unincorporated town enjoyed its first heyday in the 50’s, when its population peaked to nearly 10,000 while functioning as a bustling railroad roundabout; workers were kept busy switching out the engines on trains traveling from the west and over the mountains.

Progress eliminated the need for this switchyard, which caused the railroad workers to move on, bringing Tabernash’s population down to its current (and much more modest) number of full-time residents. Though the stretch of Highway 40 that passes through its business district is short, the outlying communities, such as Pole Creek Valley, are gaining momentum as the most coveted of neighborhoods because of their centralized locations and panoramic vistas.

Pole Creek Valley, for one, has certainly carved a niche for itself with locals and second-home buyers: its new picnic pavilion has already hosted everything from birthday parties to community clean-up celebrations, and the nearby dog-and-canoe friendly pond is awash with fun seekers every summer day. What’s more, after a fresh snowfall, a local resident adds panache by packing down the trail with his snowmobile. Now, that’s MY kind of neighborhood.

Lights Up The Night

It’s easier than ever to find Pole Creek Valley, now that solar panels were installed last April. “The solar-powered entry lights add an important safety element that was missing”the entrance to our neighborhood was very hard to see,” says Lauralee Kourse, Manager and Operator of the Tabernash Water and Sanitation District. “Guy Larson from Simply Efficient installed them, for a total cost of $15,000 – within one year, these self-sustaining panels will have paid for themselves and are expected to last 15 years.” If they would have chosen electric lights, it was projected to cost about $12,000 just to bring electricity to the site, and then about $3,000 a year to maintain them.

Eco-friendly practices in Pole Creek Valley are just what you would expect in this quintessential neighborhood; driving through you’ll see kids and dogs playing across fenceless yards, residents walking down the side streets, likely headed for the trail that winds around the pond, and friendly neighbors waving to each other as they shovel and plow their driveways. It’s a community that has known hard times though, and its people have surfaced with charm and grace to tackle the obstacles threatening to topple them into foreclosure. They came together during a crisis and have been strong ever since.

Crisis That Nearly Broke Their Stride (In a Nutshell)

There was a dark time when people could not get a certificate of occupancy for their newly constructed homes, due to circumstances surrounding the original developer (details that won’t be identified in this article.) In 2003, all properties not owned by a 3rd party were in foreclosure. Their self-governing board (which included the likes of Gretchen Bretz, Doug Oury and Irene Cooke) along with all the current residents, worked it out on their own. It was a painstaking journey, but they ultimately saved the district by digging themselves out of the muck and debt, and along the way, gave full disclosure to any new property buyers that still wanted in. One lawsuit and several years later, this community has risen from its uncertain future to one of the most solid communities around.

Green Business Practices

If you ever have a chance, take a tour of the Tabernash Water and Sanitation District; Pole Creek Valley has only been on a sewer system since 2001, and watching Laurellee Kourse throw what looks to be granola into the swirling treatment basins is nothing short of fascinating. This “granola” is actually barley malt, left over from the local brewing pub in Winter Park. This carbohydrate feast helps feed the microorganisms that treat the waste from the Tabernash and Pole Creek Valley communities. “It looks like a cracked wheat cereal that fluffs up after it’s cooked,” says Lauralee, a scientist by trade and the also the secretary of the Pole Creek Valley HOA. “And we feed these buggers 10 to 15 gallons a day!” The batches of barley malt come in 30-gallon garbage pails, and they pick up about five to ten every week, with each pail weighing about 100 pounds. These naturally-occurring helpful bacteria and other microorganisms consume organic matter in wastewater and are an essential part of the wastewater process. If they wouldn’t use the free brewpub waste for this purpose, they would need to buy dog food, which adds up over the year, given the hearty appetites of the organisms.

Great care is taken to satisfy the needs of this district in the most efficient, and thoughtful, ways possible. In order to protect the quality of the water that runs through the town, they’ve created sediment catches (or mitigation cribs) to capture storm water runoff from the roads and hillsides; these help to mitigate tars, oils and other nasty things from getting into the Fraser River. The above mentioned pond is carefully monitored through the year to make sure that it’s not overrun with algae, and it’s drained during the winter so residents don’t need to worry about kids falling through the ice.

“It’s the sense of community that drew me in as a property owner, but it was all of the positive developments going on that led me to be president of the Pole Creek Valley HOA,” said Zane Bishop, co-owner of Bishop Built, Inc. “Another plus is that local businesses are hired to do everything the community needs,” Zane added. “From building the new well house to constructing the picnic pavilion near the pond, using local contractors is just one important principle we stand by.”

Many of the same concepts were applied to Coyote Creek, Pole Creek Valley’s newest populace, including its solar lit entrance sign. “The limited number of homes within was by design, in order to take advantage of the creek and the open space,” said Cliff Anderson, Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties Broker and Coyote Creek Representative. “We’re restoring the land to its natural setting, with meadow grasses, Spruces and Aspens, and that meant not overdoing it development-wise.”

Coming Attractions

In the future, if you’re nearly out of gas, you won’t have to decide if you can make it to either Granby or Fraser, since a new gas station/convenience store/business center is planned near Pole Creek Valley’s entrance. Plus a new restaurant is in the works, right off of Hwy 40″a family-friendly tavern that plans to serve exceptional food”so keep your eyes open for Grand Opening signs sometime later this spring. If you find yourself yearning for an authentic neighborhood ambiance, Tabernash is definitely worth a second glance.


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