VAIL - Several major players in the town of Vail's relatively brief history gathered on one podium Tuesday
The highlight of this year's annual community meeting in Vail featured a panel discussion among five of the town's former and current mayors. The town has had 11 mayors in its history, nine of whom are still living.
Four of the five panelists still live in Vail. But former mayor Peggy Osterfoss - who held the job in the early 1990s - made the trip to Vail from her current home in Taos.
Vail's roundabouts were built then, and the town also worked to build its open space portfolio.
Back then, Osterfoss said the council tried to balance economic sustainability with environmental preservation.
Current mayor Andy Daly said the town is still working on many of the issues that took up the council's time 20 years ago.
Ironically, Daly was working for Vail Resorts when the company negotiated the traffic and on-mountain capacity agreements with the town before Blue Sky Basin was developed.
In a "state of the town" report, Daly noted the town is debt-free today. "That goes to the leadership so many previous councils have shown."
That leadership hasn't always been easy. Vail, like so many small towns, tends to make many, if not most, changes in town to full-blown controversies.
Former mayor and current council member and mayor pro tem Ludwig Kurz said those controversies often led to early-morning and late-night phone calls.
"People are very concerned and engaged," Kurz said. "I remember getting calls from Pepi (Gramshammer) at 5 a.m. when we were snow plowing. He'd tell me, 'If I can't sleep, then you can't sleep either.'
"So we put in snow melt," Kurz said.
But the decision to put in a snowmelt system in Vail Village topped the list of things former mayor Dick Cleveland said he wished the town had done differently.
"It just doesn't look like a ski town without snow in the streets," Cleveland said.
All the mayors said they're optimistic about the future - with one big 'if.'
"Vail's success is assured," Ford said, pointing to one of the west windows at the Donovan Pavilion, where the event was held.
In that window hung a timeline of the town. Those who came to the meeting were asked to put their names, and the year they "first connected with Vail," on a sticky note, then put it up in the appropriate decade. Most of the sticky notes were clustered in the 1960s and '70s.
And, as usual at the community meetings, there was a lot of gray hair in the audience.
"An issue I'm looking at is passing the future of Vail to the next generation," Ford said. How we do that is the key to the future."