Bridge Street crowd weighs on upgrades
Vail’s big spruce-up, which started in the Village this week, is coming at the right time if the sentiments of a mid-day crowd on Bridge Street are any indication.
Visitors offered a variety of opinions. Most said a face-lift is probably a good idea, but also said Vail’s a pretty nice place the way it is.
“It would be nice if there was an outdoor ice rink like the one in Beaver Creek, but otherwise it’s lovely,” said Joyce Barnaby of Grand Rapids, Mich., who was visiting Vail for the first time with a ski team from that city.
“It needs something else,” Jamie Leisch of Salt Lake City said. Eager for the free Blues Traveler concert on Bridge Street Saturday night, Leisch said, “An outdoor concert venue would be good. But it’s a beautiful place.”
Australian visitor Paul Busst was a little more critical in his assessment. Standing in the shadow of some buildings dating back to the mid-1960s, Busst looked around and said, “It needs an update. There’s a real ’70s look to it.”
Kevin Cote, who grew up in Parker on the Front Range and now works in Breckenridge, blasted the town. “It’s atrociously synthetic,” Cote said. “I don’t know what you could do besides drop a bomb.”
Locals weren’t that harsh, but all agreed that some civic improvements are needed.
“It would be good for business – it would draw more people but that means more crowds on the mountain,” Anne Szakovitz said.
“It’s time for a change – this is Vail,” local snowboarder Ken Coleman said.
Sonnenalp manager Greg Foster and friends Megan Stephens and Sebastian Castro were among those walking down Bridge Street Friday. The visitors were having a fine time, but Foster, whose employers will tear down and replace the old Sonnenalp Swiss House this summer, had some firm opinions.
“It’s like a 1970s feel – it’s a little dated,” Foster said. “The construction period is going to be tough, it’s going to disrupt a lot.” But the result will be worth the short-term troubles, Foster said, “But only if they do it right.”
Castro and Stephens both said they were enjoying their stay in Vail and both thought the town wasn’t in bad shape. “But every place could use a spruce-up,” Castro said.
But face-lifts don’t suit everyone’s tastes. A group of visitors from Oklahoma were disappointed to learn of the plans for the Village’s future.
“I like it just like it is, they don’t need to tear it up,” Sue Walker of Choctaw, Okla. said. “You can see new stuff anywhere.”
Likening Vail’s upgrade plans to Las Vegas, a city constantly in the process of re-inventing itself, Beverly Jennings of Slidell, La. said there’s charm in leaving a place alone.
“They think (renovation) will bring in more business, but it doesn’t,” Jennings said. “Look at New Orleans. They don’t change anything there and people come. We need to leave some things alone.”