In Brief: Rider unhurt when chairlift falls; cutting broadband red tape; ski areas open terrain or start new, faster chairlifts |

In Brief: Rider unhurt when chairlift falls; cutting broadband red tape; ski areas open terrain or start new, faster chairlifts

Staff Report

Rider unhurt when Breck chairlift falls

A rider of a quad chair that detached from a Breckenridge Ski Resort lift on Thursday morning was uninjured despite a 13 foot fall, according to a statement from the resort.

A little after 10:30 a.m., a chair dislodged from the haul rope of the Peak 8 SuperConnect quad just before it reached the unloading zone, the statement said. Ski patrol responded immediately, no injuries were reported, and the guest declined further care, according to the ski resort.

The weather forecast posted to the ski resort’s website for Thursday described the conditions as “very windy” with a northwest wind 28 to 36 miles per hour and gusts as high as 55 miles per hour. 

The lift remained closed for the rest of the day and will undergo a full inspection before re-opening, the resort said.

The SuperConnect lift first opened in 2002 and was designed by Poma, according to past reporting.

GarCo aims to cut through broadband red tape

Garfield County has sent a letter to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, requesting assistance in navigating the roadblocks to access state-owned fiber lines to bring broadband service more quickly to western Colorado. The letter notes that as many as 7,000 households in Garfield County have no access to broadband service, and many other homes are served by slower, less reliable service. 

“Garfield County, along with our community partners, has made broadband a priority to ensure that the underserved and unserved communities have access to reliable and cost-effective broadband services,” the letter states. 

The county voiced concerns in the letter that agreements between its partner, Region 10, and the Colorado Department of Transportation have been stymied by red tape, which is holding up the overall process. Region 10 leverages resources to help provide affordable, high-speed Internet service to Western Slope communities.

Carrier neutral locations are either already existing or are in the process of being established in Glenwood Springs, Rifle, New Castle, Silt, and Parachute. Region 10 is waiting on CDOT’s Intelligent Transportation System Department for access to its fiber line along Interstate 70 because stipulations that restrict or prohibit broadband use have been made on state assets by private companies.

“We are engaged in unprecedented intergovernmental cooperation to improve broadband throughout western Colorado,” the letter reads. “Legal ambiguities relating to CDOT’s contractual arrangements continue to be a persistent roadblock and are delaying our progress.”

The county requested that all state agencies revisit the state’s fiberoptic network agreements and determine that they serve the public interest. 

“The county allocated $5 million on broadband to get service lines along Interstate 70 to each of our municipalities in the Colorado River Basin,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “This effort will all be for naught if we cannot get access to the CDOT trunkline along the highway. This affects all of western Colorado. We’re requesting that the governor investigate this and intervene to speed up the process of connecting broadband service to our citizens and businesses.”

The letter, which lists 24 affected communities in western Colorado, was approved by the Board of County Commissioners unanimously, 3-0.

Heavenly starts up upgraded chairlift

A new, upgraded chairlift at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe that officials say will increase uphill capacity and reduce wait times at other lifts opened on Monday.

North Bowl Express, a new, high-speed detachable 4-person chair that replaced a fixed-grip 3-person chair, is expected to improve uphill capacity by more than 40% and reduce wait times at the Stagecoach and Olympic lifts. The lift will also provide better access to some less used terrain at the resort. 

The project took a little over a year from approval to loading the public on it Monday. 

Charging your vehicle in Frisco will come with a fee

The town of Frisco will implement a 25-cent per kilowatt-hour fee for the use of town-owned electric vehicle charging stations beginning in the new year.

Frisco has installed five dual-port charging stations since 2019, and the intent has always been to transition the stations to fee-based usage after an initial promotional period, according to a news release from the town.

The fee revenue will be used to cover the cost of the charging stations, including utility costs and network-subscription fees, according to the release. Any additional revenue will go toward maintenance of the charging stations and staff time to respond to customer inquiries and coordinate with the charging station contractor.

After four hours, an overstay fee of $20 per hour — with a maximum of $50 — will also apply in order to promote turnover at the charging stations and allow others to charge their vehicles, the release states.

Skier rescued after he gets lost at Alpine Meadows

Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue volunteers and local law enforcement were recently brought a lost skier out of the backcountry and back to safety.

Placer County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report from Alpine Meadows at around 8:50 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, regarding a missing skier and soon had teams from Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue and Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol aiding in the rescue.

The missing skier’s vehicle was still in the parking lot, according to law-enforcement officials, and he did not have his cell phone with him. With winds blowing up to 100 miles per hour, the lost skier’s tracks were mostly covered, said law-enforcement officials. By around 9:30 p.m., volunteers from Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue were called out to aid in the search.

“In Tahoe, if you drop over the crest behind Palisades or Alpine, you will be heading down into a zone called Hellhole,” said Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue staff in their social-media post. “It is a very long ways away, and then we have to hike all the way back up to the crest and into the Lake Tahoe Basin. Following your own tracks back up was the correct decision in this scenario.”

Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue team members added that traveling downhill off the Sierra Crest naturally funnels lost individuals toward Sacramento, which has led to long searches in the past, as volunteers attempted to track down individuals moving downhill.

After making contact with the missing skier, rescue teams and the lost individual snowshoed for several hours to reach the ridge near Grouse Rock.

“We then had a lovely ski down, where all of us left the woods smiling and happy to be safe before the big storm,” concluded Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue in its social-media post.

The lost person has been an “avid skier for the past 40 years,” according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

Biomass plant gets funding at Lake Tahoe

Placer County has been awarded $2 million in grant funding from Cal Fire to develop the Cabin Creek biomass facility in North Lake Tahoe.

“Thank you, Cal Fire. Keeping our Tahoe forest safe and healthy is paramount,” said Placer County Board of Supervisors Chair and District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “This funding gets us closer to our goal, which can’t happen soon enough.”

Biomass facilities can create renewable energy by burning wood scraps left over from forestry operations or residential defensible-space clearing, helping remove a hazardous source of fuel for wildfires. They also generate heat and a byproduct called biochar that could be used as fertilizer and in water filtration processes.

A recent study, conducted by the North Tahoe Truckee Biomass Task Force with funding from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation and its member agencies, also affirmed the need for additional biomass facilities in the region.

Parking issues in Park City

The Park City Police Department since the middle of December has responded to numerous complaints about parking — an indication that crowds are arriving with the ski season at Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort is underway, and the holidays approaching.

The Police Department regularly is told of parking issues during busy times. The largest of the expected holiday crowds typically do not arrive until after Christmas, but there has appeared to be a marked increase in traffic and pedestrians in recent days.

The parking issues appeared to be similar to those traditionally reported during busy times, but they occurred toward the beginning of a ski season that Park City leaders are attempting to more strictly manage after widespread complaints about the impacts of crowds during the 2021-2022 ski season.

Park City boosts affordable housing

The Park City Council has given the green light to a development next to Utah Film Studios at Quinn’s Junction that will have 185 rental units of workforce housing and 100 market-rate residential units.

The project, called Studio Crossing, also will have 60,000 square feet of commercial space. The developer, Quinn Capital Partners LLC, plans to include recreational amenities and paths with pocket parks throughout the site.

City councilors voted 3-2 on Dec. 15 to approve the plan. The studio, which previously was called Park City Film Studios, was built under a 2012 development agreement that also proposed a media campus, a 100-room hotel, an amphitheater and commercial space. Only Phase 1 — which includes sound stages, a workshop, and production offices — has been constructed, according to a Park City staff report.

Vail begins to map out aspirations for next decade

The Vail Town Council continued its gradual evaluation of the Steward Vail Plan on Tuesday, looking at community-driven objectives around art and culture as well as environmental stewardship.

Once finalized, the plan will map out the town’s plan for its next 10 years as far as advancing and balancing its community, environmental and economic priorities.

The process to develop the plan began in March of this year. Over 1,500 people contributed feedback through public sessions, meetings, focus groups and in-depth interviews.

The third strategic pillar in the Steward Vail plan centers around recapturing the fun and camaraderie of the town’s early days, according to a staff memo.

“While it was always an uphill climb to afford a home or start a business, many agree it’s never been harder than now to achieve those goals,” it reads, adding that high costs of living, mental-health concerns spiking, and high rents challenge Vail’s ability to create a strong community.

This pillar sets out to define objectives that will bolster the sense of community and creativity by activating spaces that supply arts, culture and activities opportunities for all.

Cathy Ritter, the founder and CEO of Better Destinations, said on Tuesday that this pillar is really all about “activating priorities that rose up from the community.”

The pillar identifies three specific facilities or infrastructure improvements aimed toward achieving this goal. This includes creating a multi-purpose community, civic, and cultural center, forming a marketplace or food hall concept to serve as an incubator for local entrepreneurship, and developing a fitness center.

The idea to bring some sort of community or cultural center spun out of the town’s Civic Area Plan and became more idealized in the Steward Vail arts, history and culture stakeholder group.

Since then, the idea has begun to take more shape as the Vail Cultural Alliance Group. This group presented to the council in October on the need for more community gathering spaces, performing arts venues, museums and more. At the time, it offered a vision for a cultural arts hub located adjacent to the Lionshead Parking Structure.

Glenwood raises costumer utility rates 5%

City of Glenwood Springs customer rates for water and sewer along with electricity will increase by about 5% in the new year.  

“I’m never sure there’s a great time to increase rates,”  Matthew Langhorst, the city’s public works director, said in a council meeting during May 2022 when the issue was first discussed.

The tiered electrical rate increase approved by city council at the time imposed a 5.2% increase for May and an additional 5.2% increase in the new year.

“We’ve held off on this for three years after the water rates rose,” Langhorst said during the meeting explaining that trying to raise the rates then when they wanted to seemed like it would be too much for residents.

Water and sewer rate will also increase by 5% starting Jan. 1, 2023. 

This rate increase was decided on in 2021, and was postponed in 2022 after the initial increase in 2021, according to the outline in the consent agenda presented to council on Dec. 15.