Dave Lively: Developing Western White House center could boost Fraser’s fortunes
May 25, 2011
I would like to express my support for the possible annexation of the Byers Peak Ranch property into the Town of Fraser. It is my personal belief that if done correctly this could have a significant impact on the advancement of Fraser and the economy of the county.
Although outside the proposed annexation area, the town has a diamond in the rough consisting of President Eisenhower’s Western White House just outside the town limits. I would like to suggest preserving these significantly important buildings and incorporating them into the design of a “Western White House Heritage Center.” Possibly even a local or national historic district containing just those buildings.
There might be grants to rehabilitate the current structures as well as for some of the facilities such as the education center if it was used for historic interpretation and had meeting rooms and a conference center for the public and group conferences.
My recommendation to the Town and the developer would be to develop the proposed 100 acres of mixed use and open space portion of the property near the existing Byers Peak ranch house buildings. I would like to suggest to the developers that since they already have an idea for plans to include 350 lodging units, an RV park and campground, a lake for water skiing, walking and horseback trails, a festival venue, and an education center that most of those facilities could be in the same area of the current structures and be designed around the future Western White House Heritage Center.
The lake could be used for skiing but could it also be used for fishing and promoted as a place near where Eisenhower fished. The event venue might host a Fraser barbecue event that includes some of Eisenhower’s favorite recipes of food he prepared while staying here. The lodging might have a western theme or even presidential theme or at least a President Eisenhower suite. Many more ideas could be explored during these early planning stages.
The Western White House Heritage Center would bring visitors to Fraser in droves. This would bring long-term economic stability to Fraser.
Western White House visitors will stay and shop in Fraser. They will eat several meals in Fraser and they will send their family and friends to Fraser.
You already know Fraser has what has been called one of the finest small museums in Colorado at Cozens Ranch. They see around a 1,000 visitors per year. Imagine if you could draw tens of thousands of visitors to the Western White House Heritage Center every year. The visitor numbers at Cozens Ranch museum would also grow significantly.
Fraser could have a “one of a kind” venue that employs a lot of people year round and would contribute to nationwide and world-wide exposure of Fraser Colorado.
There is no time like the present to protect the past.
Dave Lively is chairman of the Grand County Historical Preservation Board.
(The next Fraser Planning Commission meeting on the Byers Peak Ranch annexation proposal takes place at 6:30 p.m.. tonight, May 25, at Fraser Town Hall.)