EAGLE COUNTY — In Vail and Avon, celebrating the new year also symbolizes something else for town officials: there’s only 13 months before the World Alpine Ski Championships arrive.
Preparing for that major event will be the focus of much of the work we see around those towns in the coming year, and by the start of the 2014-15 ski season, we’ll see the completion of a few large-scale efforts.
But there are other major projects on the way, unrelated to the 2015 Championships and adding to the ambitious workload the towns are taking on.
In Vail, the town will finally get started on the redevelopment of Timber Ridge, the large employee housing complex on which Vail has spent $22 million. Ford Park will see major improvements, and the Simba Run underpass idea will finally begin to come to life.
In Avon, new paths and trails, the creation of a new “director of economic initiatives” position and the possibility of a new stage at Nottingham Park will keep workers there busy along with 2015 preparations.
As far as those 2015 preparations go, expect to see a few big changes under way.
“We’ll be focusing a good amount of time, attention and preparation on the lead up to the 2015 championships because, literally, it occurs 35 days after the end of 2014,” said Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler.
That includes a new entry to the Lionshead parking structure, a remodel of the Vail Village Welcome Center and wayfinding improvements for those trying to get around.
“Currently, the most frequently asked question at the Vail Village Welcome Center is ‘Where are the bathrooms?’” said Mark Christie, the welcome center’s primary attendant.
Instead of telling people they’re one building over and down the stairs, Christie will be able to direct guests to bathrooms within the Welcome Center by the end of 2014.
“It doesn’t fit our first-class image to be telling people to go down a set of stairs, into a different building, walk through the Mexican restaurant and take a left by the lockers,” Zemler said.
Over in Avon, the town has been granted the “after the Beaver Creek races” time slot for hosting activities prior to guests heading up to Vail for the awards ceremony.
“Work in 2014 will be targeted at producing a fun and engaging set of events and activities for Apres Avon over the 2015 World Alpine Skiing Championships,” said Avon Town Manager Virginia Egger.
FULFILLING THE MASTER PLAN
And while the work will not be specifically linked to the World Championships, the calm before that event storms into town will provide an omnipresent backdrop as a surge of redevelopment gets under way in Avon in 2014.
Improvements to Avon Road will be a welcome improvement when people from all over the globe travel it to get up to Beaver Creek, but the goal is to fulfill the tenets of the town’s master plan, which calls for Avon to be more pedestrian friendly.
Bike lanes will be added to Avon Road, and the west side of the road’s roundabout No. 4 will serve as the entrypoint into the new “Avon Mall” pedestrian walkway, which will take foot traffic to Nottingham Park. The Avon Town Council is expected to complete its analysis of locating a performing arts stage in Nottingham Park early in 2014, as well.
“Avon Mall, when you look back at 2014, will be an achievement, a larger piece of the puzzle that will affect the business climate in the town of Avon,” said Avon Mayor Rich Carroll. “It’s crucial for Avon’s long-term goals ... at the end of 2014, we’ll say, ‘This was great,’ but at the end of 2024, we’re going to say, ‘Wow, that was fantastic.”’
Another piece of the pedestrian puzzle will come in 2014 through financial support Avon will receive from ECO Trails and CDOT grant funding. The town will construct a trail on the north side of U.S. Highway 6 from Avon Road to Stonebridge Road, in the final phase of a trail project that will connect the river trail from Beaver Creek to Stonebridge.
“Undergrounding of power lines is also included in that project,” Egger said.
Also in 2014, Avon will construct a $725,000 pedestrian/bicycle trail and bridge across the Eagle River adjacent to Avon Road, and complete the Saddleridge Trail for mountain biking and hiking, located in the West Avon Preserve.
ARTIFICIAL GRASS AND A NEW UNDERPASS
In Vail, town staff will take a fresh look at the Chamonix property in West Vail after losing focus on the project over the past few years. The property sits on 4 acres and could provide 50-or-so employee housing units.
“We were right on the edge of it in 2008 when things kind of went in a different direction,” Zemler said. “I think that will be one of the likely council priorities in 2014 ... Is it going to be townhome duplexes, one building with multi units, that’s the kind of thing that will be figured out.”
Coupled with the redevelopment of the east side of Timber Ridge, set to get under way this spring, Zemler says employee housing will be a priority in 2014.
And for those living in the Timber Ridge employee housing complex, the resurrecting of the old plan to create an I-70 underpass between nearby Simba Run and the Cascade Resort will be of particular interest in 2014.
“We’re funded, and we’re going through the first series of studies that have to take place,” Zemler said. “Likely implementation probably will not be until 2015 or 2016, but there’s a lot of lead up to a big project like that.”
Summer 2014 may begin with a slightly different feel in Vail, as the big Ford Park renovation project is already under way and will continue into the summer, bumping some of the events that usually take place there.
“We’re definitely seeing some moving around with lacrosse, soccer and volleyball,” said Barry Davis, with the town of Vail’s Commission on Special Events. “These are people that we’ve worked to create a really great home and partnership with, and I think they realize in the long term this is going to benefit everyone.”
Ford Park will return from the renovations as a much different, and better, complex than it is today. It will have two full lacrosse fields, two soccer fields, and the three softball fields it already has will be expanded to full tournament size. The irrigation system will be entirely new, and new artificial turf infields for the softball fields will be installed. It’s expected to be finished up by mid summer.
“Avon Mall, when you look back at 2014, will be an achievement, a larger piece of the puzzle that will affect the business climate in the town of Avon. It’s crucial for Avon’s long-term goals ... at the end of 2014, we’ll say, ‘This was great,’ but at the end of 2024, we’re going to say, ‘Wow, that was fantastic.”’
Mayor of Avon