Vail DailyVail, CO, Colorado

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October 16, 2012
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Vail Daily letters to the editor

Minturn rec center?No Minturn is not getting a recreation center as claimed by the Minturn Town Council and John Cole with the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy and Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.What we get for our $725 family annual fee is a weight room that academy athletes have priority over during peak times. He did not clarify peak times, but suffice it to say that it would be most of the day.John claims that he compared and visited the Gypsum Recreation Center to come up with the amenities that Minturn will have and the annual fee.Evidently, the academy and John and the Minturn Town Council think that no one in Minturn will stand up to them in this misrepresentation of the facts.Let's compare Gypsum's $750 family annual fee and Minturn's $725 family annual fee amenities:1) Gypsum has a pool; Minturn does not. 2) Gypsum has a climbing wall; Minturn does not. 3) Gypsum has a full-size basketball court; Minturn does not. 4) Gypsum has a gymnastics center; Minturn does not. 5) Gypsum has an indoor track; Minturn does not.Minturn is missing more items, but I will stop with these. Go to www.minturntimes.com for a complete list. A weight room is the only thing Minturn gets, besides a room that can control the air level so athletes can train in sea level atmosphere and some physical therapy tables.That's a big discrepancy in amenities for only $25 less. I almost forgot: John Cole said that this rec center will be a revenue producer. Minturn, wake up. Not only are we giving John $1 million to build his weight room, John and the Minturn council then plan to rip us off by overcharging us with this $725 annual family fee and making more money because the Minturn citizens refused to speak up.So lower the rate to $100 annually per family and maybe that would be fair to the Minturn citizens and build us some sidewalks so families can safely walk to your weight room. Or Dean Adler needs to step up and pay this $725 family annual fee for all the Minturn citizens, since he promised us he would build us a full-on recreation center if the citizens voted for his ski area, two golf courses and 1,700 homes, which the citizens did vote for.Remember, we still have $21 million from Dean Adler to spend on a revenue-producing, job-creating, waste water plant that the council refuses to build and the citizens approved over six years ago.The Minturn Town Council plans to give final approval of the $1 million and the $725 annual family fee in the Oct. 17 meeting. That's tonight.Frank Lorenti Minturn These made county ballotIt has been stated the county will be spending $5-plus million for open space, but the article did not state who would receive the payment. How many acres and what is the fair market value of the property.The voters voted down the child-care bill, but it was was funded by general fund anyway.The voters were not allowed to vote on the jail expansion because a survey showed it would not pass. It is paid for by general fund dollars through certificates of participation.The voters voted for term limits but had to vote again to see if term limits could be extended.Voters should be allowed to vote. Let us vote on open space and see what the majority of the voters want.Patty Vasko SeifersTwo different fire departmentsFirefighters have received a lot of press this summer, and much of this media coverage was in conjunction with the multitude of wildfires that have swept the nation. Eagle River Fire Protection District and the Vail Fire Department are each proud to have sent multiple crews to wildfires across the country, and proud of the actions our employees take every day to protect lives and property in our service areas.In light of the press that local firefighters continue to receive, we felt it important to set the record straight regarding our two, distinct fire departments. We continue to hear comments from well-meaning citizens that indicate there is confusion between our two departments, facilities, and financial situations. Eagle River Fire Protection District is a separate entity from the Vail Fire Department, although the two entities often train together and have an excellent working relationship.Eagle River Fire Protection District's service area covers 186 square miles and includes five staffed fire stations to serve the following areas and communities: Camp Hale, Tennessee Pass, Red Cliff, Minturn, Eagle-Vail, Avon, Mountain Star, Wildridge, Beaver Creek (contractual agreement), Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead, Homestead, Edwards, Lake Creek, Singletree, Pilgrim Downs, Cordillera, Bellyache Ridge, Red Sky Ranch and the portions of I-70, Hwy 6 & 24.Vail Fire Department serves the Town of Vail as well as the I-70 corridor from mile marker 171 (Dowd Junction) to 190 (top of Vail Pass).A clear distinction must be made between the two departments, if only for the sake of clarifying the upcoming special district election, in which the Eagle River Fire Protection District will ask its voters for a 3.77 mill levy.In past years, Eagle River Fire Protection District has obtained approximately 90 percent of its revenues from property taxes. Home values through out Eagle County have dropped since 2008, with a corresponding drop in Eagle River Fire Protection District's property tax revenues of $1,724,913 since the last value assessment in 2010. Another 20 percent decrease in assessed value is anticipated for 2014.These unprecedented drops were not unanticipated. Eagle River Fire Protection District and its board of directors actively planned for these revenue reductions in the following ways: Cut 70 percent of administrative staff; deferred essential equipment purchases; rolling station closures since April 1 to avoid paying overtime; no pay increases for the past three years.Vail Fire Department, on the other hand, is part of the town of Vail, and its funding is covered under the town's budget. While budget cuts have occurred in the town of Vail's budget, as well, the town's varied sources of revenue have somewhat insulated Vail Fire Department's budget from cuts similar to those that Eagle River Fire Protection District has implemented.Recently, the Vail Fire Department built a new, state-of-the-art fire station in West Vail. A renovation of its main Vail station is also planned for the fall. These expenditures were needed and carefully planned.Eagle River Fire Protection District is painfully aware of the need for facilities construction and upgrades. However, there simply isn't money in Eagle River Fire Protection District's budget for this sort of undertaking. Confusion regarding these upgrades continues to persist, as well-intentioned constituents question how a fire department that can afford a new station and renovations could also implement rolling station closures and ask its taxpayers for a mill levy increase. The answer from Eagle River Fire Protection District: "That's not us!"While the differences between our departments are important, there are many similarities between the two: Both departments pride themselves on providing top-notch service to the people and properties within their respective service areas. Both departments have also made fiscally sound decisions in the best interests of their taxpayers based on the best information and the facts of the situation.When judging the need for a new facility, renovation or tax increase in your area, please base your decision on the facts, as well, and contact either of us with any questions. Both departments are committed to continued transparency in serving you!Karl Bauer Chief, Eagle River Fire Protection District Mark Miller Chief, Vail Fire and Emergency ServicesQuestionsI attended the commissioner debate at Homestead on Oct. 11. I thought I could ask questions addressing a specific candidate. I couldn't, and Richard Carnes said I could ask in a letter. The questions are to Jon Stavney. He said he was going to pursue getting the Arrowhead section to become forest. Homestead would become a thoroughfare to the forest. Question 1: Is a vote possible for the Homestead residents? Without the larger forest (3.5 million acres) the open space is 730 acres (leaving out the east-west 80 acres of the "L.") Stavney said at the candidate forum on Sept. 24: "Since I've been commissioner, every purchase has had significant public access." Question 2: Do you consider 10 parking spaces significant for the $3,250,000 purchase and access to 730 acres or do you intend to provide more spaces?Question 3: Are you aware of an Eagle Valley Land Trust desire to purchase the 50-foot-wide easement to the east-west 80 acres of the "L"?Question 4: In the memorandum of understanding, it says the homeowners association will consider additional portion of the 400 acres of open space for a conservation easement (public). Are the Homestead residents aware of this agreement?Question 5: The "L" sold for $3,250,000 and according to the appraisal, the north-south 80 acres of the "L" was appraised for 160 units. Mark Chapin gives each unit a $500,000 value. That equals $80,000,000. Divide that by 3 and you get $26,000,000, which is what that part of the "L" should have sold for. What future perks are in store for the Scudder-Webster partnership?Question 6: On the memorandum of understanding between the county and Homestead the 50-foot-wide access road to the east-west 80 acres of the "L" was left out. Why?Question 7: Are you aware and is Homestead aware (especially Filing 2) that the public, with horses, dogs, etc., will be crossing Filing 2 to get to the forest T?Barbara AllenPlays well afarI'd like to congratulate Dr. Smyser on her Superintendent of the Year Award. Clearly, this is a prestigious award and a tremendous addition to an already impressive resume. Undoubtedly, we should be proud that in Denver, among various educational and legislative bureaus, Dr. Smyser is considered among the best of the best. Also, I appreciate that she is on a vigorously successful career path and I respect her for that. What disturbs me, is that the district office and the school board, while touting Smyser's political accolades and achievements, are ignoring the massive disconnect she has within this community and her failure to prove that her main concerns lie here at home addressing the difficulties we are facing as a district. It's hard not to be seen in this valley, but somehow Dr. Smyser does a great job of it. As families and community members are being asked to write personal checks to keep teachers in buildings, a little face time from Dr. Smyser and for lack of a better term, a little damage control, would probably go a long way. I admire Dr. Smyser and the contributions she is making at the state level, which I'm sure will one day have positive effects on kids here in Eagle County and all over Colorado. But what about today? Why haven't we heard from her or the school board on the adverse effects of a dwindling student population (over 80 students left the district this year), the struggles of implementing a new curriculum (the chronic testing, and administering of "CFAs" is a disaster) and most importantly, teacher morale (are we letting teachers be heard?). It is imperative that the people we count on to be in front of our kids every day, our teachers and our principals, feel that they can depend on the leadership that's in place. I don't need to be proud of our leadership in order to be proud to be in Eagle County Schools, where both my daughters are thriving. But I'll save some of the bragging and kudos, for the principals and teachers who are absolutely amazing and who are the true pillars of Eagle County Schools.Jen Jewett Eagle


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The VailDaily Updated Oct 16, 2012 09:15PM Published Oct 16, 2012 09:12PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.