Vail Valley Voices: New Town Hall still on tap?
Ryan Summerlin February 22, 2013
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.
The town of Vail has, as yet, to say that it has abandoned its proposal to build the new Town Hall and whether it will continue to hold a portion of the municipal complex site for the development of a medical office building.
The town’s joint development proposal to do such a project was put on hold last November when a key player in the development of the medical office building terminated their involvement.
Setback not terminal: Optimism continues that a viable proposal by the Vail Valley Medical Center for the western part of the Vail municipal complex site will be found, with time and persistence. The medical center is continuing its planning consultant study of a comprehensive facilities plan for its main campus. The plan was previously scheduled for completion in 2012. It has now been rescheduled for later in 2013.
Related public safety solutions also on hold: Suspended, as well, were pending solutions, associated with both the Vail municipal complex site and Vail Valley Medical Center main campus, for public safety concerns over hazards from vehicular circulation and medical helicopter service.
Valuable design work was completed demonstrating how the South Frontage Road traffic could function to safely serve both sites by a roundabout.
There were also designs showing how a pedestrian bridge over the South Frontage Road could connect both sites, including moving patients from the medical center campus to the medical office building site.
Include new solutions in town’s master plan: The Homeowners Association has requested that the traffic and medical helicopter public safety solutions be included in the town of Vail master planning document, as they would be applicable to whatever future redevelopment is done on either site.
The information is important to include, as it has relevance to the potential resolution of public safety issues for several affected neighborhoods.
Medical helipad location needs a permanent home, but not in a residential neighborhood: The location of a helipad to serve the medical center should be planned to be relocated where it is not a threat to residential uses. The current site of the helipad is on Colorado Department of Highway right-of-way, which is immediately adjacent to the proposed medical office building portion of the municipal complex site.
The Department of Transportation has said it wants the helipad removed from its land and relocated elsewhere. The Federal Aviation Agency guidelines recommend not locating hospital helipads in or near residential neighborhoods. Operational noise and the effects of storm conditions will remain issues as long as the medical helipad is located in built-up areas.
The town, it is suggested, should hire its own helicopter aviation consultant to advise it on an appropriate location.
Moving medical center access from West Meadow Drive to South Frontage Road: During the course of planning for the municipal complex site, it became apparent that there would be a need for a physical interconnection with the medical center’s main campus.
As a result, the adjacent residential neighborhood requested a solution to hazardous traffic conditions on a portion of Vail Road and West Meadow Drive, the main vehicular access route to the medical center. The neighborhood provided a 2003 traffic study from the town’s files, documenting that Vail Road, at its intersection with West Meadow Drive, has the potential to become overly congested during periods of heavy traffic.
The neighborhood expressed concerns that the marked increase in recreational traffic from pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders on West Meadow Drive was becoming dangerous when mixed with medical center traffic.
Affected residential neighborhood wants recommended solution in town’s master plan: The adjacent neighborhood urged the town to fulfill its own master plan that recommends changing the primary vehicular entry to the medical center’s main campus on West Meadow Drive to its entrance on the South Frontage Road.
Both the municipal site and the medical center campus have driveways immediately opposite each other on South Frontage Road.
There are multiple driveway entrances near this location that would require cross-traffic turning that could cause public safety concerns during periods of heavy Frontage Road usage.