1966 – Vail becomes a town, too
Seibert was the ultimate promoter – too bad that word has such a dirty connotation in our thinking today – but he knew how to go out and explain a product. He could see things. Today, a promoter works for financial gain. This was never the case with Seibert.
“Working with Peter was interesting. At times I was supposed to be the realist in the group. I had to be able to control, and at the same time encourage, Pete’s vision,” Lewis said. “His visions were my challenge. I had to figure out ways to implement them. He would never back off. He let me get into trail design, mountain operations – things that would lead me into a true management role. I always appreciated that.”
During the next several years, Lewis continued to develop, and his title as executive vice-president and treasurer fit him perfectly. It became obvious that Lewis had the executive leadership needed by Vail. During his regime, there were many developments that affected Vail’s future. First, it was always known that Vail couldn’t continue to be a company town because the costs were just too overwhelming. Vail could no longer support the many expanding services that were necessary. A town had to be formed.
But how to go about it? In Colorado, the statute states that in order to form a town or city, you must have 100 citizen voters within a square mile. Vail didn’t come close to qualifying.
Management went to see Judge Luby, the only judge in Eagle, and asked if they could create a town if there were only 50 citizens in a half square mile. The judge thought that would be a reasonable interpretation. Many of the businesses in town were owned under corporate names, so Judge Luby was told that there would be no trouble getting 50 citizens.
However, bright ideas always seemed to surface. A lot was taken out of the subdivision, where the library is now located (opposite the hospital), and 20 of the locals bought it. That group included Rod Slifer, Gary White, Fred Froelick (the village manager), Chuck Lewis and 16 others. It was bought on a long-term note in which they paid $50 per year and their share of the property taxes. That gave them enough density to petition for the formation of the town of Vail. It became official on August 3, 1966.
They needed police powers and had to be able to take care of the roads and the property-tax base. It was a way that they could get the commonalty of management on all of the districts, including water, sanitation, and gas facilities.
Some years later, Slifer – then the mayor – had the opportunity to unravel the lot.
“We never thought it was buildable, but as things grew, the lot became buildable,” Slifer said.
He had to round up the original 20 people in order to sell the lot. The toughest one to find was Fred Froelick. He had been convicted of embezzlement in Snowmass, and Slifer had to get his signature from the state penitentiary.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 75th installment, an excerpt from chapter 11, “The Corporate Team.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.
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