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 community and property owners invested, as their part of the Vail Renaissance redevelopment, many millions of dollars to create an enhanced shopping and living environment on Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive in the heart of Vail Village. Along with heating the streets and the installation of decorative brick paving and streetscape art work, millions of dollars were invested in enclosed truck terminals to relocate the staging of delivery truck traffic off of the street. Several enclosed loading terminal docks were built into redevelopment projects throughout the area. The final remaining element to the terminal system was recently completed by the owners of the Sebastian Hotel, which opened access to the entire Vail Village Inn block.
The value of the terminal system can be seen firsthand in comparing and contrasting the truck-free new East Meadow Drive commercial area with the ongoing truck congestion on the Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive business district. The truck-free areas have proven far more popular for special events like street concerts and the Farmer’s Market. It is these types of special events that have proven to be most effective in putting feet-on-the-streets resulting in filling hotel rooms, restaurant seats and ringing cash registers in retail shops.
In 2007, the town of Vail decided to retain, with minor adjustments, the pre-Renaissance redevelopment truck access policy citing as its rationale that the loading and delivery system was yet to be completed. The town’s decision was influenced by the stressful economic conditions caused by the Great Recession. These stresses are no longer a threat as attested to by the record-setting increases in the town’s sales tax receipts. The town committed to changing the policy once the Renaissance element of the terminal system was completed. It is now complete.
There are now additional environmental sustainability factors which are influencing the use of the public streets. The urban runoff from Vail Village and Lionshead is one of the highest sources of contamination that is causing the pollution of Gore Creek. The heating of the streets has eliminated much of the pollution caused by the sanding of roadways. One of the biggest contributors to waterway contamination is chemicals from paved surfaces. Treatment of chemical pollution is much more complicated and expensive to achieve. Relocating delivery vehicles to terminals could result in concentrating collection and treatment of vehicle-related pollutants.
The expectation by consumers for businesses to conduct their activities according to environmentally sustainable principles has begun to influence local business practices. Recycling of waste products is one of those expectations. Some of the delivery terminals can be modified to function as recycling collection and processing sites. The onsite shredding of plastics and cardboard including the crushing of glass could reduce the volume and improve the efficiency of the recycling process. A high-volume trash compactor already exists at the largest delivery terminal.
Members of the Homeowners Association are requesting that the town of Vail take the necessary steps to fulfill their commitment to incentivize businesses to use the now completed terminal system. This may require public investment in a small fleet of electric delivery vans to replace manual hand carts, so that delivery drivers can make front door deliveries to businesses. Instituting a truck access fee to enter Vail Village could be one of the methods to hasten the relocation process and to fund the electric cart and recycling operation.
It is the desire of the Homeowners Association to work with business interests to identify a procedure that will increase the utilization of the terminal system. It is urged that business interests lead the way toward pragmatic solutions based upon a recognition that environmental sustainability goes hand in hand with their own and the broader community’s economic sustainability.
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