County specifies conditions to acquire Cuchara Mountain Park

By David Rinehart –(Published: Sept. 21, 2017) All the talk and excitement spreading throughout Huerfano County about a possible purchase of both the former Cuchara ski area and shuttered Grandote Peaks Golf Course has resulted in negotiations for agreement with Huerfano County.

Tuesday, the Huerfano Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved sending a letter to developer Scott Brown of Boulder County outlining the conditions the county would like to see in any agreement to use the Cuchara Mountain Park.

Just a couple of weeks ago the Cuchara Foundation successfully completed a fundraising effort to reimburse the county for the $150,000 purchase price of the 40 acre park located at the base of the ski hill which includes buildings and ski lifts.

In the letter the BOCC say they understand Brown’s desire to purchase both the golf course and the ski area because they are, “dependent on each other to attract the investment necessary for either to succeed individually.”

The commissioners have seven conditions to include performance milestones, such as having lift 4 operational by November 2018. They ask for annual investments from the developer to cover improvements and the ongoing operation of the facility. Commissioners also want Brown to show measurable progress in negotiations with the U.S. Forest Service to expand the ski area operations onto forest property. In addition, Brown is asked to purchase or lease buildings A and B at the base as well as bringing them back to “useful condition”. Commissioners want a guarantee on local jobs, with a specific number of full-time employees at the site. Finally they request the acreage within the publicly owned Cuchara Mountain Park to be used for “education and recreation activities beneficial to the community”, and all activities be approved by the Cuchara Mountain Park Advisory Board and Cuchara Foundation. The also require indemnification for the county and foundation against liabilities.

 “This is just a letter of intent, not an agreement,” County Administrator John Galusha said. The letter concludes, “we would like to work diligently to forge a relationship with you to improve the recreation activities available within Huerfano County.”

Commissioners met with Brown on August 29 during an afternoon workshop titled “Forest Service Road Management and Ski Area”. Sources say about 50 local residents attended along with Brown his associates and U.S. Forest Service personnel.

Brown is credited with the rebirth of Telluride, Colorado starting in the 1970s. He is currently Chairman of Super Development Corp, a real estate development and financial consulting company. He is also experienced in affordable housing and space technology.