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Winter Park hosts gathering of resort communities

Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News
Stephanie Miller/Sky-Hi Daily News
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Members of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) met Friday morning at Winter Park Town Hall to share updates on various topics related to resort communities, such as tourism, climate and affordable housing.

The association, a group of 25 municipalities whose economies largely depend on tourism, was formed to recognize the challenges resort communities face. The group meets about five times per year in different locations; this month, it was Winter Park’s turn to host the event.

“In a sense, it’s networking. It’s about getting to know people in similar communities so you can call them up ” because you know them,” explained Paul Strong, executive director for CAST. “It also works as a way to follow legislative issues that affect us directly.”

About 20 to 25 representatives from resort communities throughout the state munched pastries and sipped coffee as Fraser and Winter Park town officials informed them about their latest accomplishments and issues. Joyce Burford, who is president of the CAST board, was in charge of the meeting.

Gary deFrange, president and chief operating officer for Winter Park Resort, kicked off the meeting with an update on the ski season.

Winter Park Mayor Nick Teverbaugh talked about some of the changes that have been happening in Winter Park, alluding at times to his pending retirement this summer. When asked about affordable housing, Teverbaugh said the town faces the usual problems in resort towns ” rising land costs and housing ” and sees it getting worse “pretty quickly.”

“We rely on Granby for housing (for employees), but several major developments are going on there … When Granby has more jobs available and housing available, I feel we’ll quickly see the housing in Granby taken by people who want to work closer to home.”

The Winter Park and Fraser Consolidation Roundtable, whose members include Fraser Mayor Fran Cook and Teverbaugh, and town managers Jeff Durbin (Fraser) and David Torgler (Winter Park), gave a presentation about the prospect of both towns merging and the findings of the Joint Working Group that studied that option.

Durbin listed some of the problems both towns face and how, by working together, they have managed to come up with solutions, such as the Fraser River Enhancement Project, a combined police department and a combined municipal court.

Economics played a big role, Durbin added. When City Market opened in Granby a few years ago, sales tax revenues in Fraser took a “real blow.”

“Safeway was our cash cow. We had to so do some hard thinking, and make some tough decisions,” he said. “That put more focus on how can two communities work better together?”

The growing development in Fraser also changed the dynamics, Cook said.

“It has caused a very interesting and painful change in who Fraser is, and who Fraser is becoming, she said.

But Cook pointed out what some community members feel about a possible merger. A screen above the roundtable member’s heads displayed one sentence: “Over my dead smelly rotting corpse.”

“The elephant in the living room is, ‘Yeah, but how do you feel about this?'” she said. “We need to find a way to discover the feelings and emotions. (And), what do we name it?”

Update on Colorado tourism

A representative of the Colorado Tourism Office presented statistics about the state’s tourism economy.

As it turns out, 2006 was a record year and afforded the state a marketing budget of $19 million, ranking Colorado’s budget within the top 10 states.

Statistically:

– Colorado ranks fifth among states people say they would really enjoy visiting.

– Tourism is the state’s second largest industry; it represents about 10 percent of Colorado’s economy

– In 2006, there were 27 million overnight visitors who contributed $9 billion to Colorado’s economy.

– Every Colorado resident would have to pay $150 more in taxes if it weren’t for travelers.

– In 2006, 60 percent of state vacations occurred during spring and summer months.

Colorado Climate Project

Stephen Saunders of the Colorado Climate Project spoke about the project and its goal to bring Coloradoans together to reduce the state’s contributions to climate change.

The nonprofit organization addresses multiple concerns such as water, emissions, greenhouse gases and energy. As part of the Colorado Climate Project, the Colorado Climate Action Panel has proposed solutions such as reducing demand, reducing solid waste into landfills and adopting California’s emissions standards for vehicles.

The action panel is entering its second stage, Saunders said, which is making recommendations to local and state governments and elected officials.

Saunders encouraged others to view the Web site, coloradoclimate.org, for more information and ways to participate.

Resolution on rent control passed

The CAST meeting ended with a resolution to support legislation for rent control. The legislation would ensure that developers and towns can voluntarily work out an agreement to set aside a certain number of units at a fixed, cheaper rent to increase the availability of employee housing.

” To reach Stephanie Miller, call (970) 887-3334, ext. 19601 or e-mail smiller@grandcountynews.com.


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