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Our View: Wearing a mask shows you care

When the world changes, we need to change with it.

That’s now true of mandates and recommendations to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Those of us who lived in Colorado in 1987 may remember the letters to newspapers decrying the then-new mandatory seat belt law. The main argument was that the law was an affront to personal freedom.

We’re seeing much the same indignation over the not-particularly onerous rules about wearing face coverings in public.

At this point, just about anyone not wearing some sort of mask, either in a store or an outdoor setting where it’s impossible to maintain social distancing — 6 feet, or roughly two Labrador retrievers — is making a statement. That statement is misguided, as is the idea that the virus itself is some sort of hoax.

This piece isn’t going to argue about the efficacy of masks in preventing the spread of the COVID-19, or the reality of the disease, so save your emails.

Instead, here’s a simple fact: If we’re going to get our economy back on track, many more of us need to mask up.

Governments and businesses, including Costco and local transit systems, require patrons to wear masks. Communities including Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Aspen have made mask-wearing mandatory in public places.

In an odd contortion of logic, many of those who decry mask mandates are also calling for the immediate reopening of businesses in the valley, state and nation.

Reopening is something most folks fervently wish for. In the case of our valley, though, that means inviting guests to stay and play in our part of the world. Those guests are going to demand assurances that businesses are safe. 

In the days after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the valley, people at this newspaper received any number of emails from patrons of businesses that had reported virus-sickened employees. Who was infected? When did it happen? Was that person working the night I had dinner?

Do you think those people will come back without assurances that we as a valley are doing everything possible to ensure their safety?

In this case, a big part of “everything” is employees, fellow guests and people in grocery and other stores wearing face coverings.

Without guests, we can’t get back to work and our economy will continue to wither.

Wearing a mask is no fun. Ask those who do it for hours at a time on a work shift. Still, wearing a mask isn’t particularly high on the list of horrible things. Would you rather wear a mask for eight hours or sit through a marathon session of Congress?  

It took about 30 years for Colorado to almost hit 90% seat belt use. We have to do much better than that when it comes to mask use.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Editor Nate Peterson, Publisher Mark Wurzer, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Business Editor Scott Miller and Advertising Director Holli Snyder.

Our View: Bringing communities together with Vida Latina

According to a 2017 U.S. Census Bureau study, the Hispanic population of Eagle County makes up over 35% of the community. These are our coworkers, our neighbors and our friends.

As the local, trusted news organization here in Eagle County, the Vail Daily prints on the cover every day its mission of “bringing communities together.” It would be shortsighted to not consider over one-third of our valley’s community when it comes to delivering valuable information that helps inform Eagle County residents, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March of 2019, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart launched Vail Vida Latina with the collaboration of Battle Mountain High School teachers Paola Baglietto, Julieta Cavallo and Miguel Salinas along with their students. As evidence of our rich Spanish culture here in Eagle County, he was directed to the local high school from the local college to start finding a way to collaborate. The teachers started submitting community information in Spanish for parents, and the students started submitting touching first-hand stories of growing up in Eagle County.

Soon after launching, local nonprofits and organizations became contributors to Vida Latina, printed Fridays in the Vail Daily, as well as on the Vail’s Daily’s website and on Facebook. Mountain Recreation, Walking Mountains Science Center, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Bright Future Foundation and others in the community started submitting their content in Spanish. Less than a year into Vida Latina, the Vail Daily brought on local Edgar Arroyo as a translator, turning important English stories by Vail Daily reporters into Spanish.

And now, thanks to federal funding assistance, Eagle County local Julio Garcia Jimenez has joined the team as a Spanish-language reporter through early June. You’ve likely already seen some of his reporting in the local news section of the Vail Daily, translated from the original Spanish.

Jimenez, a graduate of Battle Mountain High School, went to Santa Clara University for college, graduating with degrees in communication and Spanish. He has a passion for community journalism, and this valley we love, and we’re excited to have him on the Vail Daily team. It’s just the latest step in an ongoing effort to more fully cover the communities we serve here in Eagle County.

During the coronavirus outbreak, content in Vida Latina has included resources for help; updates on county and state restrictions; translations of columns from Heath Harmon, the director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment; as well as tips for staying safe outdoors; and first-hand accounts from local high school students.

If you would like to contribute to Vail Vida Latina, or tell us how we’re doing, email Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart at rleonhart@vaildaily.com.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: Take a moment to shape the future

The variable message board sign at Eagle is lit up with an admonishment — only 16% of Eagle County households have responded to the 2020 Census.

That’s is a ridiculously low response in a part of the state that is trailing Colorado turnout. The 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses western Eagle County, has Colorado’s lowest response rate at 47.2 percent. That’s more than 20 percentage points lower than the highest reporting area of the state — the 7th Congressional District at 67.7 percent.

Why do these numbers matter? Because the Census matters. The 2020 Census is important because it will determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, inform hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding, and provide data that will impact communities for the next decade.

There’s a lot riding on this once-in-a-decade event, so it is in local residents’ best interests to make sure everyone who lives in Eagle County is accounted for in the census.

It’s not like responding to the census is an onerous task. It takes about five minutes and can be done online, by phone, or by mail. And certainly, in these days of COVID-19, we all have plenty of time at home on our hands.

Certainly, laziness likely plays a role in the lackluster local census response. Hopefully, Eagle County residents will make the small time commitment it takes to complete the questionnaire.

But lethargy isn’t the only reason why people aren’t responding. There is also a matter of trust. There are many Americans today who don’t trust the government and don’t want to share their information. We aren’t the arbitrators of whether people’s fears are founded, but we don’t believe that opting out of census participation is a smart strategy.

The census is simply a count of how many people live in individual households as of April 1, 2020. It doesn’t address citizenship status or gun ownership or any of America’s hot-button topics. It doesn’t seek financial information or personal opinions.  As noted on the census webpage “The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.”

In the end, failure to participate in the census robs your community of representation and government funding. As we recover from the days of COVID-19, government aid will likely be a vital concern so Eagle County needs an accurate count to ensure it qualifies for whatever assistance is available

It’s not too late to participate in the census. In fact, the deadline for response is Oct. 31, 2020. But the sooner local census workers can get responses from easy-to-count populations, the more time they can devote to hard-to-reach groups.

So, since no one is going out to dinner and the movies tonight, take a few minutes to do something important and fill out a census response. As the effort’s tagline proclaims, take a moment to shape the future.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: Let’s not go backward

In a valley full of superb skiers and snowboarders, you’re not going to find a lot of people who want to ski greens all day, every day. But, going off the “Transition Trail Map” that outlines Eagle County’s latest public health order, we can’t, as a community, level up to the blue phase or the black diamond phase of our economic recovery if we don’t take this beginner phase seriously.

It’s a very real possibility, after all the hard work we’ve done keeping our distance from one another, and hunkering down, that we could go right back to the severe restrictions that were put in place after Eagle County emerged as one of the country’s hottest spots in early March.

We have, just like Gov. Jared Polis said last week, gotten our act together here in Eagle County.

Flatten the curve? According to Will Cook, the CEO of Vail Health, we prevented it entirely.

Last Thursday, when Eagle County became the first in the state to receive exemptions from the governor’s stringent stay-at-home order, Cook told Polis that the hospital didn’t have a single COVID-19 patient in its care. Vail Health hasn’t had a patient on a ventilator since March 27.

So, yeah, there’s a reason for optimism. There was nothing wrong with a little virtual backslapping in that official ceremony with Polis and county officials, considering how far we’ve come.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We may be beyond our peak, so to speak, according to the county’s data, but we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet.

On Monday, the governor said letting down our guard now, as a state, would only put us right back where we were.

“Our gains will be lost,” Polis said. “This great sacrifice that Coloradans have made will have been for nothing if we can’t continue and maintain the social distancing needed.”

So, yes, you can now go get a haircut, or get your nails done, or hit some golf balls — but that doesn’t mean you can start slacking off.

You still need to wear your mask every time you’re out in public and keep 6 feet of social distance. You still need to keep washing those hands. And if you’re a business owner who is reopening, you and your staff need to follow the outlined social distancing protocols in place to the letter. No excuses.

Also, if you’re sick, stay home — and get tested immediately if you have symptoms.

Lastly, and this is a hard one, but you’ve got to tell your friends and relatives who want to visit that they’ve got to stay away. No weekend trips to the mountains. Eagle County has reopened — just a little — to those of us who live here, and to those who own a home here, but it’s still closed to everyone else.

We’re all in this together, and the only way we’re going to progress as a county — and as a state — is if we remain vigilant in this fight. That means doing your part.

That way,  hopefully, we can advance to some better terrain in the weeks and months to come.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: Feeling hopeful about 2020

It wasn’t all bad news, even though it often felt that way in 2019.

It was, undoubtedly, a year of discord. The local, state and national headlines reflected that. Here in Eagle County, we argued over a controversial workforce housing development in East Vail and a historic barn in Avon. At the polls in November, Colorado voters had their say on a reform measure to the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights following a bruising campaign season. Nationally, the impeachment of President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives has severely widened the national divide between progressives and conservatives — with no middle ground to be found.

So what’s there to be optimistic about in the New Year? The impeachment trial in the Senate promises to bring more of the same vitriol, as does the 2020 presidential election. Brace yourself for the nastiness.

And the saga of a workforce housing project in East Vail — and the possible fate of a herd of bighorn sheep — is far from settled. The arguments will continue as a legal challenge to the Vail Town Council’s decision plays out in court and a new council — now comprised of a majority opposed to the development — works to find a resolution.

Still, we’re optimistic, for a number of reasons. Good news? Look no further than the commitment that Vail Health and a number of other local organizations have made to combat our behavioral health crisis in Eagle County. Vail Health made a $60 million pledge over 10 years, in early April, with the launch of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, then doubled down at the end of the year by announcing a multi-year fundraising campaign to raise another $100 million. That drive is already off to a remarkable start, thanks to nearly $19 million in pledges, including $15 million from the Precourt family.

It truly is “going to take this entire valley,” as Chris Lindley, EVBH’s executive director, stated at the campaign launch event. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

We’re also hopeful that new state health care reforms, including a bill to create a publicly funded health insurance option that was co-sponsored by local lawmakers Kerry Donovan and Dylan Roberts, will make a dent for locals in a county with some of the highest insurance rates in the nation. We’re also encouraged by the ongoing efforts to create sustainable relief for health care costs between Vail Health, the Vail Valley Partnership and other local entities that models the Peak Health Alliance in Summit County.

Also, new taxes and restrictions on tobacco in Eagle County and local municipalities go into effect today, overwhelmingly approved by voters, that are designed to get citizens, especially our local youth, to stop smoking and vaping.

All of those developments are encouraging.

And, it goes without saying, in a resort market like ours, that snow makes everything better. What better way to ring in 2020 than with another powder day during a season that has been solid so far.

As for resolutions, ours at the Vail Daily remain the same as ever: We’re committed to telling the stories that matter to our locals, our second-home owners and our visitors. Ditto for continuing to serve as a community forum where successes, both big and small, can be celebrated and where disagreements can be debated in a civil manner.

Journalism in this country may be facing an existential crisis (just look at the Front Range media landscape), which is why we consider ourselves lucky to be in the position we’re in. Studies overwhelming show that communities without a local news source are less informed and less engaged.

We’re all lucky to call such a stunningly beautiful place home — or a home away from home.

Here’s to new beginnings in 2020. Happy New Year.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: Davis, Foley, Mason, Langmaid for Vail Town Council

This is a particularly good year for Vail Town Council candidates.

Seven excellent candidates are seeking four seats on the seven-member board. Our recommendation is for Vail voters to re-elect council members Kim Langmaid, Jen Mason and Kevin Foley, along with newcomer Barry Davis.

The incumbents are doing a pretty good job handling the town’s affairs, and Davis presents voters with an opportunity to elect a candidate who brings a fresh perspective and thinking to the board.

Again, though, any of these seven candidates would bring knowledge, experience and a love of the town to the office.

Pete Seibert’s name will ring a lot of familiar bells with voters, since he’s the son of Vail’s founder. But Seibert’s more than just a familiar name and face. He has long experience in the resort and real estate businesses, and has spent years involved in community groups including Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.

Brian Stockmar brings perhaps the longest resume to the race, with experience in international law and finance. Stockmar is also the current chair of the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission.

Karen Perez is representative of a new kind of Vail resident. An attorney, she works remotely, but is involved in the Vail Valley Business Women and other civic groups. She’s also a member of Vail’s planning board.

Any of these candidates would do well on the council. But the four candidates we’re recommending bring a mixture of personal, professional and community experience that’s hard to top.

Incumbent Kevin Foley is the longest-serving member of the council — all done within the town’s term-limit regulations. Foley is the quintessential working man in Vail, having experience in the lodging and restaurant business. He’s seen, and participated in, most of the town’s most contentious issues since the 1990s, including as a one-time member of the Vail Recreation District’s board of directors.

Foley is on Vail’s front lines nearly every day — he postponed an endorsement interview due to a large group coming in without notice to the restaurant at which he works.

He has a distinctive perspective about how the town works — and doesn’t — for the people who really make the place run. For a town with a focus on housing, that’s important.

Jen Mason also brings long experience in Vail to the council. When it comes to events, Mason’s tenure managing the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater gives her invaluable knowledge when it comes to understanding events and what it takes to lure and host them. Her current job as the executive director of the Colorado Snowsports Museum adds to that perspective.

Mason has visibly agonized over some decisions in the past, trying to find the balance between neighborhood wants and the town’s needs. She brings a thoughtful approach to those deliberations and listens to arguments for and against sometimes-divisive issues.

Kim Langmaid, the third incumbent running this year, has lived in the valley virtually her entire life. She knows what Vail used to be, and, learning at the feet of her parents and grandparents, knows first-hand about running a small business in a resort town.

Langmaid, the founder of Walking Mountains Science Center, often takes a little different view of various issues facing the council. She’ll almost always ask how just about anything can be more environmentally responsible, from new building projects to looking at more sustainable ways to heat the town’s streets.

That brings us to Barry Davis, the person who would be the rookie on the council. As a member of the Vail Commission on Special Events, Davis is no stranger to the town government and its operations. Davis has bought, run and sold several businesses in town, including Yellowbelly chicken, and has a keen understanding of the challenges and rewards of running a small business in town.

Davis is also a resident of the Chamonix townhomes neighborhood, living there with his wife and young son.

From hiring to housing to bringing a different perspective to the town’s ongoing debate about short-term rentals, Davis has the mix of experience and inquisitiveness that will serve Vail well in the coming years.

Again, Vail voters can’t make any bad choices this year, but Davis, Foley, Langmaid and Mason are the best of a good group.

Please, though, do your own research into these candidates. Our opinion should be just one data point among many. For more information, check out our voter guide at vaildaily.com.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Advertising Director Holli Snyder, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.

Our View: We are a ‘yes’ on 1A

Eagle County didn’t take the cautious route in proposing a new tax on tobacco and nicotine products.

But while it is a bit audacious, we support passage of question 1A on this fall’s ballot

In question 1A, the county is asking voters to impose a tax of 20 cents per cigarette — that’s $4 per pack — and 40 percent on the sale of all other tobacco and nicotine products. The money raised will go to public health and education efforts.

The measure is, in large part, the county’s response to the burgeoning popularity of vaping among local youth. This behavior isn’t unique to Eagle County. A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Colorado teens vape nicotine at twice the national average. Nationally, the parent company of grocery store chain City Market has announced that it is discontinuing the sale of vaping products.

Question 1A tax is part of the county’s three-pronged effort to battle the issue of teen tobacco and nicotine use. Earlier this year, the county raised the legal purchase age for tobacco and nicotine products to 21 years. Additionally, a new tobacco and nicotine licensing program will be instituted countywide.

But when it comes to really making an impact, there’s nothing as effective as hitting people in the pocketbook. According to a study by the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, a 10% increase in the price of cigarettes typically results in a 3% to 5% decrease in adult smoking prevalence. That same 10% increase typically results in a 6% to 7% decrease in youth smoking. Using that data as a guide, a 40% jump in price should have a marked impact on local smoking numbers.

Even as we state our support for question 1A, we want to acknowledge that this feels a bit like voting in a tax that only affects other people. According to statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, from 2015 to 2017 only around 10.2% of Eagle County’s adult population were smokers. An additional 4% of the adult male population of the county was identified as smokeless tobacco users. So, while we all get to weigh in on this new tax, nearly 90% will never have to pay it. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either a great deal or an unfair imposition.

Of course, proponents of the tax say their ultimate goal is to see no one paying the tax. Instead, they hope the high costs will spur people to give up smoking, chewing and vaping. They note that smoking cessation products such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are exempted from the tax.

In the end, we believe when people have to pay a substantially higher amount for a product, they think twice about whether they really want it. When it comes to a substance as addictive as nicotine and as carcinogenic as tobacco, thinking twice about buying is a very good idea.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Sales Manager Holli Snyder, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Business Editor Scott Miller and Director of Special Projects Edward Stoner.

Our View: Proposition DD is a safe bet for Colorado

There are two state measures on this year’s ballot and Proposition DD is unquestionably the least controversial and least complicated of the pair. It asks voters this basic question: Should sports betting be legalized and taxed with the majority of the proceeds going to fund state water projects?

In our view, the answer to that question is a definitive yes.

You don’t have to sell the importance of water to Coloradans. Locally in Eagle County, and around the state, it’s clear just how critical water is to our future and how important it is to protect our limited water resources as our population surges. 

Here’s a sobering statistic: Colorado’s population, which is estimated to be just under 6 million according to the most recent census data, is expected to reach 8 million by 2050. How are we going to manage all that growth and provide enough water to our state’s farmers?

Proposition DD is a step in the right direction to figuring out the answer to that question.

No, it won’t fund the state water plan in its entirety, and, yes, it may contribute to gambling addiction in casinos as sports betting comes online. 

The latter is a legitimate concern brought forth by opponents of the measure, who claim it is irresponsible to puts no limits on the amount a person can bet on sports and that, of the millions in potential revenue, only $130,000 each year is dedicated to gambling addiction services.

But what’s the alternative? Sports betting is already big business in Colorado, regardless of whether it takes place in a casino in Black Hawk or on the black market. 

According to reporting done by WestwordStanton Dodge, the Colorado-based in-house counsel for mobile sports-betting application operator DraftKings, claims there are an estimated 1.2 million bets placed annually in Colorado, resulting in over $2.5 billion in illegal wagers placed online through offshore websites. And that doesn’t even include black-market betting in your local sports bar.

In our view, just like the legalization of marijuana, the benefit of taking an industry that operates in the shadows and turning it into a legal one that will be regulated and taxed for the greater good is a no-brainer. 

Proposition DD is modeled off the Colorado Lottery, which provides money to the state’s parks and open spaces. The funds from Proposition DD would go to water projects statewide that support water conservation, river health and agriculture.

It’s a win for water, and it deserves a “yes” vote on your ballot.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Sales Manager Holli Snyder, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Business Editor Scott Miller and Director of Special Projects Edward Stoner.

Our View: Tax exemption questions deserve support

Eagle County voters are looking at a relatively short ballot this fall, with only a pair of state questions and a small handful of local ballot issues.

Two of those questions, 6A and 6B — for the Eagle Valley Library District and Eagle County Health Service District, also known as Eagle County Paramedic Services — are similar in that they’re asking voters for protection from future cuts in residential property rates.

Both districts are asking voters for relief from future property tax cuts due to the provisions of the state’s Gallagher Amendment.

That constitutional amendment, proposed and passed in 1982, sets a permanent ratio between the share of property tax paid by residential and non-residential property owners.

Here’s how it works: 

Residential property tax collections must make up no more than 45% of a town, county or special district’s property tax collections. The remainder is to be paid by non-residential property. That’s mostly commercial and agricultural property. 

As Colorado’s population has grown, so has the number of residential property taxpayers. To comply with Gallagher, residential taxpayers have seen a steady decline in the taxable percentage of their homes’ assessed values. At this point, the owner of a home pays roughly one-fourth of the tax rate of a similarly valued non-residential parcel.

Since the formula is applied uniformly across Colorado, rural areas that haven’t seen Front Range levels of residential growth have seen their property tax collections decline. That decline has public-safety implications.

For instance, the voters in the Gypsum Fire Protection District in 2016 passed a tax increase request to increase the district’s paid staff and upgrade its aging equipment.

By 2018 — before the 2016 measure’s collections had kicked in — Gallagher-mandated rate declines had taken away the voter-approved increase.

So the district in 2018 asked voters to exempt the district from further tax-rate declines imposed by Gallagher. It wasn’t a request for more money, but to keep funding levels voters had already approved. Voters passed that question in Gypsum, as did voters in the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District and numerous other special districts across the state.

This year, library district and ambulance district voters are being asked the same questions.

We think those requests have merit.

For the library district, maintaining property tax collections at current levels means maintaining services, from book purchases to programs for kids and seniors.

At the ambulance district, lives could be at stake. In addition to maintaining its current staff of about 70 people and keeping those people up to date with training, the district also has to regularly replace ambulances — at roughly $250,000 each — and pay for fuel, insurance, maintenance and all the other things necessary to keep any fleet of vehicles ready to roll at any moment.

The ambulance district estimates that by 2022 it could lose about $990,000 per year out of its current annual budget of roughly $13 million per year.

That’s unacceptable for a valleywide service in the business of saving lives.

Again, neither district is asking voters for more money — each is just asking to protect money they are collecting now from looming cuts.

Voting “yes” seems like a pretty painless way to maintain services at both these districts.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Sales Manager Holli Snyder, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Business Editor Scott Miller and Director of Special Projects Edward Stoner.

Our View: Enough already with the high-speed rail

Like the story of aliens stashed away at Area 51, high-speed rail to mountain resorts is an idea that simply won’t die.

The Denver Business Journal recently reported that a coalition of government and business groups commissioned a study to look into the feasibility of a high-speed rail line to the mountains.

The study found there would be some benefits in economic activity and tax revenue. But it didn’t take into account the cost of the project. According to the article, a 2014 study estimated the cost of building high-speed rail from Denver International Airport to the Eagle County Regional Airport at between $10.8 and $32.4 billion. That’s money that currently exists nowhere but in the minds of backers.

Good grief.

We all want thriving businesses in our communities, and visitors are the lifeblood of robust mountain resorts. And it’s no secret that driving to and from the resorts can be time-consuming and aggravating enough to discourage some potential guests.

On the other hand, there are some silver linings to the dark clouds of congestion.

Here in the Vail Valley, we often hear complaints about crowded ski slopes on busy days. Do we really want easier access to what some say are already-crowded slopes, restaurants and lodges?

Then there’s the cost. Given the 2014 study’s estimates — with a broad enough cost swing to be better defined as a wild guess — do we really want to spend some wildly variable, currently unfunded 11-figure sum of money to create a 24/7/365 solution to what’s now a problem roughly 110 days per year?

That should be enough, but here’s one more thing to think about: new residents.

The recent study indicates that a rail line could bring more than 3,300 new residents to the corridor. Where might those people live?

Making Denver’s Union Station a 60-minute rail ride from Edwards or Avon will create a new population of commuters, people who may or may not become involved in the communities where they sleep.

Do we as a state want to take on that kind of financial commitment? Do we as local residents want to put even more pressure on already-squeezed local housing markets? Do we really want to turn our valley into a resort/suburb?

It’s madness.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Advertising Director Holli Snyder and Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller.