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A new gathering space

Matt Zalaznick

Photographs of national park buildings were the inspiration for the Donovan Park Pavilion, the West Vail special events facility that is already booked for all but three Saturdays next summer.The pavilion, the first public building to open in Vail since the library began lending books in 1982, will be dedicated to long-time resident and former Vail Mayor John Donovan on Aug. 30. The land, which also includes the busy new park alongside the South Frontage Road, was initially dedicated to Donovan 23 years ago.”I’m just thrilled. It came out even better than we thought,” said Donovan’s wife, Vail Town Councilwoman Diana Donovan, during a sneak-peak tour of the pavilion Wednesday while workers put the finishing touches on the mountain-lodge-style building.AdaptableThe pavilion, which has a full kitchen and state-of-the art audio-visual equipment, is designed to be adaptable, Donovan said.”It can be whatever you want,” she said. “A lecture hall, weddings, company gatherings, a memorial service.”The 5,025-square-foot pavilion, owned by the town, cost $2.8 million to build. It will be open year-round and can accommodate nearly 500 people indoors with space on the creek-side patio for another 110 people. The pavilion is designed for all types of events, including conventions and weddings, said Laurie Asmussen, one of the owners of Donovan Pavilion Management, Inc., the firm hired by the town to manage and book the facility.”What the Town Council communicated to us was, “We want a community gathering place,'” Asmussen said. “This is a new gathering place in Vail. It’s for weddings, family reunions, corporate parties – it’s a beautiful, open mountain-lodge-type feeling.”It gives the town a larger place to gather,” she said.Discounted rates are available to Vail and Eagle County residents who want to reserve the pavilion, Asmussen said.The pavilion will open for events on Sept. 2.Bookings boomAsmussen’s partner, Cindy Clement, said there has been strong interest in the park – despite no local advertising and very little advertising nationally. There has been intense regional, national and even international interest, and the pavilion is already reserved for almost every Saturday next summer, Clement said.”It’s amazing the amount of bookings we have, and the interest,” Clement said.The town plans to hold the November elections, which will include either four of five open seats on the Vail Town Council, in the pavilion. The town also plans to hold its annual meeting there.”I think it turned out fabulous,” said Vail Town Councilman Rod Slifer, who, along with Donovan and Councilmen Dick Cleveland and Chuck Ogilby, was on the committee that oversaw design of the pavilion. “I think it will get used a lot.”Acting Vail Town Manager Pam Brandmeyer acknowledged the pavilion has been a “controversial and contentious” issue for the town during the past few years. But the final product, Brandmeyer said, should quell some of the opposition.”We’re incredibly proud of the entire facility,” Brandmeyer.Park already popularWhile the pavilion has yet to open, the surrounding park is already a busy recreation spot. Diana Donovan said she’s pleased with the popularity of the surrounding park.”I came down with my grandchildren and it was so crowded we went to Ford Park,” Donovan said. “That’s a real measure of success.”Slifer said the park has been a big hit with Vail locals.”This is a big neighborhood; a lot of people live here and they’re mostly full-time residents,” Slifer said. “You see kids in the playground, you see a lot of basketball, Frisbee, dogs, soccer – there’s a lot going on.”Donovan Park & Pavilion dedication ceremonyWhen – 10 a.m., Aug. 30Where – Donovan Park, South Frontage Road, West Vail.What: Park and pavilion will be dedicated to former Vail mayor and long-time resident John DonovanFor more information on booking the pavilion, call 477-3699 or e-mail pavilion@vailgov.com.Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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