Vail Daily column: Solutions set aside?
Ryan Summerlin September 6, 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.vailhome owners.com.
The collapse of the proposed redevelopment of the town of Vail municipal complex site to include a medical office complex linked with the Vail Valley Medical Center has refocused concerns over how future medical center redevelopment will be integrated into the larger community. At issue are quality of care, increasing traffic concerns and the location of emergency helicopter services.
Recently, the town of Vail and the medical center have conducted a series of open meetings concerning the medical center’s long-term expansion plans. Some who attended those meetings reported, however, that the meetings seemed more like public relations events than efforts to seek common ground with the community. No property owners from the affected neighborhoods were consulted in setting the meeting format or agenda, and matters that had been agreed on earlier in the municipal complex site discussions, such as traffic patterns and helicopter service issues, were ignored.
Earlier, those matters had been “put to bed” with agreements to remove medical center traffic from Vail Road and West Meadow Drive via a joint access roundabout on the South Frontage Road and the helicopter pad was to have been located away from residential neighborhoods on the roof of the municipal site medical office building and interconnected with all other medical center buildings on the main campus via an enclosed pedestrian bridge over the South Frontage Road.
The Vail municipal complex project’s failure greatly disappointed many of those who live in the surrounding residential neighborhoods who had worked hard to finalize collaborative solutions. As a result of the planning and design work done for the project, it is now known that practical and economically viable solutions that would resolve all of the affected neighborhoods’ public safety and congestion concerns do exist. Both the medical center and the town invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the study and design of these solutions. Critics ask, is that investment to be wasted by being disregarded and just thrown away?
There are those who believe the town of Vail is backing away from those solutions because of new pushback from the medical center and the fear that if redevelopment concessions are not made to medical center, it will make good on its threatened relocation downvalley to be closer to emerging population centers where it has already located some aspects of its operations. Others say this possibility is exaggerated, if not outright misleading. The medical center, they say, is adamant that it remain a locally controlled institution. A substantial relocation by the Vail Valley Medical Center out of Vail would increase the chance that a large, non-local, medical corporation would move in to fill the void, bringing with it unwelcomed competition.