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Elkhorn Lodge Ski Adventure Park Redevelopment Proposal


The following notes are taken while present at the town meeting by: Tricia King. They are not verbatim or part of the committee presenting the proposal,  points pertain to overall flow and progress of this proposal.

Frank Thiese – A resident of Estes Park for 12 years and knowledgeable in old historic renovation/preservation of buildings.

Points presented by Frank:

• Read a statement by Bill Pinkham who was not present at the meeting. In this statement Bill believes this project is exciting for the community of EP and is a strong advocate of the program, hoping to make it a reality. Bill feels Frank and Todd are qualified to oversee this year-round park as well as upgrading the existing Elkhorn Lodge. He feels it will benefit the EP community. Mayor Pinkham can be contacted by email at:

• 2 projects need to be approved. This is possible through the Regional Tourism Act, passed in 2009:

1. Regional Tourism Authority – who has the authority to obtain bonds.

2. The Town of Estes Park submits an application for the project to the State.

This process can not condem property and can not use sales taxes. The application must be submitted by March 21, 2011.

• On the Elkhorn Lodge property of 62 acres the following would be created:

- Fall River Cultural Arts District (small campus), possibly a museum, visual arts, concerts, historic education, and year-round activities. This would be a Non-profit building and function.

- Restoration of the original lodge with a new wing added on providing 150 more rooms for accommodation. Some of the surrounding out-buildings and barns would be either relocated, if possible, or removed.

Some of the benefits pointed out by Frank from this feature:

• Creates a year-round economic community.

• Creates more jobs. Young working people are needed. If there are year-round jobs, younger people would stay.

• Creates new tax revenue for the Town of E.P.

• Promotes E.P. to the public.

• Benefits special districts.

Todd Jirsa – A resident of Estes Park, previously resident of Iowa, where he and his family ran and owned a family ski area.

Points presented by Todd:

• A year-round adventure park with a 2500 ft long vertical slope, and others smaller slopes branching off – beginner and intermediate level skiing. (no night skiing) This design is similar to Howelsen Hill Ski Area in Steamboat Springs, CO ( for more details)

• Poma-Quad chairlifts – with fixed grip will be used and Magic Carpet will provide surface lifts. Both are Colorado owned companies.

• Snow Max snow making system for this feature is water pressure only, quiet, running at 50 deciples – (note: 50 deciples is the sound level of the meeting in Town Hall with microphone use; downloaded application messured from IPhone). This snow making system produces snow at 27 degrees in 48 hours.

• Water Rights come from Fall River with a 70 – 80% . Todd stated, “ It is legally feasible. Although, further conversations need to held because winter skiing in E.P. is dependent on water.” He then refered to Michael Berry, president of National Ski Areas Association, located in Lakewood, CO as advocating the adventure park in E.P. NSAA’s website objective statement is; “The association’s primary objective is to meet the needs of ski area owners and operators nationwide and to foster, stimulate and promote growth in the industry.” ( , 2011)

• Alpine coaster running year round (no need for snow to operate) at 2500 ft long and a 600 ft tubing slope.

• Snow shoeing and ski biking ( ski biking has been a popular sport in Europe). Ski and snowboarding lessons will be offered.

• Summer activities for visitors will include: Canopy tour zip-line.

• Summer hiking, horseback riding, and mountain boarding.

• At the Event Center conferences, concerts, arts & craft shows, festivals, car shows, and historic reenactments can be held.

• The entrance for this adventure park will not be the original entrance, but is proposed to be west of the barn off of Wonderview Dr. It will include 350 parking spaces. (The Town of EP has designated the number of spaces for parking.)

Frank Theis and Todd Jirsa can be reached by email at:

The cost of the application from the Town of EP to the State of Colorado is $30 –$ 40K to prepare a good application.

Concerns and Questions from Community

Becky Browning (resident of E.P.) – “Is there a detailed lay out to look at of this park? What about signals, the entrance location, and traffic through the neighborhoods near the lodge?”

Frank’s answer: “We don’t have it yet. The proposal has no by-pass or intrusion into neighborhoods that would add traffic there.”

Todd: Offers to do a walk of the property with the surrounding neighbors.

Ray Curanzy (new resident to E.P.) – “You stated that there would be an influx of visitors in the winter. How will the driving be effected with snow conditions along Hwy 34 and Hwy 36?”

Frank’s answer: “Living in Colorado the winter driving is part of being here. It may take longer getting here, but the projected growth just along the Front Range is at 20-30% over the next 10 years. “

Don DeBay (Owner of Mary’s Lake Lodge) – “What kind of parking will be provided? And, are the slopes like Bunny-slopes, Green or Blue diamond level?”

Todd’s answer: “The slopes are mainly beginner and intermediate. The number of 350 parking spaces is set by the Town of Estes Park.”

Tricia King (resident of E.P.) – “ I have 2 questions. The first is: Are you planning on building sustainably and green? The second question comes from Susan Wolf (Allens Park resident, not present) – “What about the toxicity of the additives to make the snow? Is it an endocrine disruptor causing issues such as cancer?”

Todd and Frank’s answer: “Yes we will be building sustainably and green. The use of solar panels has been worked into the construction. Todd mentions following the National Ski Areas Association guidelines for creating and maintaining a sustainable and green structure. Todd also assures the chemical used in the snow making process is a bit more cost-wise, can be researched through Johnson Controls who provides it, and it is environmentally safe.”

Linda Chapman(Superintendant of EP Schools and resident since 83’) – commends the proposed activity area. “I recall using Hidden Valley Ski Area for skiing myself. Through both living here as a long time resident and being involved in the young children in school, this provides a natural environment of activities for them right in their town. Over the past few years the schools have been losing enrollment due to the lack of year-round employment for young families up here.” This is something she has seen happening up here over the years and sadly many wonderful residents have had to leave because of job loss. She hopes to see this adventure park become a reality and success.

Marianne  (resident of E.P.) – “How is this project divided with funds and profit between owners? Who has ownership or shares in it?”

Frank’s answer: “It is public and private involving the Town and RTA. Essentially there are 3 parcels owned by 3 different parties. The ski park and lodge will be for profit. The Art & Entertainment Center will be non-profit.”

Tricia King – “Frank, I am not meaning to sound negative or demeaning, but I am confused. You told us earlier you will be building sustainable and green, shown us presentations of the layout of the park, yet you say you do not have detailed layouts or drawings of the proposed site…how can this be?”

Frank’s answer: “The process is just in a proposal process to the Town. The application has to be approved by the Town before commitments can follow thru. This can be up to 9 months after the application is submitted before being able to start the project.”

Greg Steiner(resident and local artist) – Greg had no questions. He just expressed how much the town needs this type of park to generate jobs, promote community activities, and provide year-round business for lodging, business owners, and residents. He has been in Estes Park for a very long time and the arts and culture needs this enhancement. He hopes to see it become a reality.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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