Vaill Valley Voices: Too much focus on business in Vail?
Ryan Summerlin October 26, 2012
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.vail
The town of Vail now has ample economic development prospects to sustain its financial stability for the next several years.
Even now, these prospects are beginning to show momentum. However, there is pushback, as affected neighborhoods are increasingly resisting having their residential qualities diminished by what some perceive as the overindulgence of town patronage projects, which are being rationalized as economic stimulus.
The town’s reactive economic development priorities in response to the great recession, which were set in motion as an outcome of the last Town Council election, may be shifting. Intervening realities appear to some observers to be changing community sentiment far faster than the political institutions are able to adjust course.
If course adjustments are not made, the town could find itself needlessly entwined in prolonged entanglements akin in consequences to those troubling the town of Avon.
The town’s pro-commercial stance is throwing it out of balance with its obligations to also be the guardian of the community’s residential property owners.
Complicating the issue is the fact that roughly 80 percent of Vail’s residential property owners are non-residents without a vote in Vail elections and therefore have a disproportionate underclass sway in Town Hall politics.
By contrast, the town has institutionalized commercial interests within its administrative structure, giving favor to a special interest business lobby.
Critics believe the town should rebalance the scale by transitioning the economic development function to a non-governmental business association and requiring its board of directors to be independently elected from business license holders rather than appointed by the Town Council.
There are consistent concerns and objections from neighborhoods that are being affected by the town’s patronage of commercial projects. They see the town as having a lack of attentiveness to their emerging quality-of-life concerns.
Their complaints are about congestion, public safety and environmental degradation.
If adequate remedies are not found, there will be increasing clamor to take up protective measures, like expanding the area where public vehicular access is constrained.