A wink and a nod to No. 1 | VailDaily.com

A wink and a nod to No. 1

Don Rogers

n Town council members asking if it’s really necessary for Vail firefighters to respond to emergencies on I-70 beyond town boundaries toward Vail Pass or Dowd Junction.

n Ignoring a court order to build a West Vail fire station by Dec. XX, 1985.

n Investing $3 million on a community pavilion, part of a $11 million recreational facility project (which to be fair is mostly funded through RETT funds that can’t be used on much else), while showing empty pockets for fire-emergency services in West Vail.

The town’s main fire station is so old it’s not only outdated and too cramped, but falling apart. There isn’t enough staffing to cover the town as the calls continue to increase.

In West Vail, emergency service is 10 full minutes away. The standard for response is under four minutes – the difference between a small fire being caught in time and growing to engulf a home, and between saving a life and arriving too late to help.

If public safety were even on the list, Vail would have built that West Vail station long ago. Revitalizing the community’s 40-year-old shopping villages, keeping the guests awash in world-class “amenities” and marketing the town have proven to rest higher among the priorities for Vail government. Those are significant issues for a resort community, to be sure, especially as the sales tax revenue fails to grow sufficiently from year to year to year.

But if the clearly stated top goal is public safety, there’s that glaring hole in the net. Change the mantra or live up to it already. Enough of the lip service! In a way, that’s what a public hearing next Tuesday with the Vail Town Council is all about. For the Vail firefighters, this thing has come to a head with their growing sense that the last place left to build a new station in West Vail might instead be devoted to other, lesser uses if judged by Vail’s supposed top goal.

We’re not talking about economic development, better recreation, easier living, more fun, more revenue here. Sorry. The subject is life itself, because sooner or later that will be the cost of the town’s leaders failing in their mission to properly provide for public safety. It’s that stark, if inconvenient in the headlong rush to improve the resort community’s bottom line.

There’s a reason public safety was placed No. 1 on the list way back when. Now it’s time, past time, to heed what is supposed to be the town government’s top goal.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. You might want to be there.


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