If you haven’t been to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater yet this season, be sure to drop in for the next Hot Summer Nights concert or any number of events planned this summer and take time to experience the venue’s new social courtyard.
It’s where elegance meets simplicity. Reminiscent of the canopy design at Denver International Airport, the new structure is striking in its appearance yet pragmatic in its function to provide a space to shelter the park’s users from inclement weather. Also included is a stunning stone-carved tribute to the Ford Family that chronicles the legacy and community contributions made by President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Ford.
Open daily, this new space is part of a phased renovation of the park’s amphitheater and lower bench area that is also home to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. New terraced lawn seating, additional restrooms and other improvements are also being enjoyed following completion of an earlier phase.
Together, these renovations are indicative of the community’s resourcefulness in coming together to support a treasured amenity, not unlike the creation of our hospital and chapel decades ago.
This latest version of our “barn raising” resolve has involved many sectors of the community, for which we take great pride. There were the voters in 2011 who authorized a portion of the former conference center funds to be used to improve the park.
THANKS TO THE FRAMPTONS AND DONORS WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE
And most importantly, there’s Harry Frampton, chairman of the board of directors of the Vail Valley Foundation. Harry has been inspiring key donors to join in his vision to elevate both the passive and active cultural and recreational experiences in Ford Park on a scale that is transforming the park into an extraordinary destination, much like Central Park in New York City.
Such an attraction, he reasons, will ensure that Vail continues to be on the cutting edge of amenities available to both residents and guests. I couldn’t agree more.
Our thanks to Harry and Susan Frampton and the other “angel” donors who have contributed to help make this project possible — Marlene and John Boll, the Borgen family, Lyda Hill, and Mary Sue and Mike Shannon. One more angel donor is all that is needed to complete the foundation’s pledge to raise $6 million which has been paired with nearly $4 million from the town of Vail. This is also due in part to the leadership and perseverance of Ceil Folz, the Vail Valley Foundation’s president and CEO.
The Ford Amphitheater renovations represent a generous level of philanthropy that has been replicated throughout Vail’s history. And, when paired with taxpayer dollars, this is the type of public-private partnership that can leverage Vail’s future success in incredible ways. Imagine the possibilities in the creation or re-creation of other community anchors, such as expansion of Vail Valley Medical Center and a new education center for the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. What an incredible opportunity we have to work together to strengthen our community.
Andy Daly is the mayor of Vail.