Browning: Vail ready for a fresh face
Vail Votes Nov. 3
• Vail’s election is separate from the county-wide election.
• That means you either vote in person at Town Hall or go to www.vailgov.com for information about absentee ballots.
• The council will have three new members — Andy Daly and Margaret Rogers are term-limited and Dale Bugby chose not to seek re-election.
• Ludwig Kurz is the only incumbent running for re-election this year.
• Current candidates include newcomers Kim Langmaid, Mark Christie, Jen Mason and Doe Browning; former council members Kevin Foley and Dick Cleveland are running again.
VAIL — Doe Browning’s love of Vail started with what she calls the “wildest thing” her dad ever did.
Browning’s parents bought a condo at Lions Square Lodge in the early 1970s after her dad, who loved skiing, looked around at a number of resorts.
“He decided this was the place,” Browning said. Years later, Browning’s father’s vision has resulted in his daughter seeking a seat on the Vail Town Council.
As Browning grew into adulthood, then marriage and motherhood, she lived in her native Kentucky and Philadelphia. She often visited Vail with her own family, using her parents’ place as a base.
As a newly-single mother with two daughters in the 1990s, Browning decided she wanted her own place in Vail, and she bought a unit in Lionshead. Browning was able to walk her younger daughter to school at Red Sandstone Elementary School from her place in Lionshead. That was Browning’s real introduction to Vail as a community.
“Vail was home then,” she said.
“I didn’t know a single person when we moved,” Browning said. In addition to being an active parent of a school student, she took up tennis and yoga, and quickly wanted to become more involved in civic life.
“I was very involved in my home town, and wanted that experience here,” she said.
Over Browning’s professional life, she’s been an artist, a developer and has served on various community design review and other boards. These days, she calls herself a “philanthropy consultant.”
Her art experience has served Browning well as a member for the last eight years of the Vail Art in Public Places Board.
That started with a chairlift ride with current council member Margaret Rogers.
“Nobody knew me here as an artist,” Browning said, adding that once Rogers found out, she encouraged Browning to apply for a seat on the board.
Time on the public art board has been a “great experience,” Browning said, adding that the board has done “some great things” in town.
Work on re-developing property in Cape Cod, Philadelphia and Vail has taught Browning a lot about the public process of land use, she said. While she believes building codes and regulations have a purpose, she said the next Town Council should consider some changes in its codes to spur renovations and improvements around town.
“We can help with (reduced) permit fees,” Browning said. Lower fees could benefit both property owners and, by extension, the rest of the town.
Browning said that a town program that refunded fees for commercial improvements before the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships was a success.
“Maybe we could use those tools elsewhere,” she said.
While there’s work to be done on Vail’s existing housing stock, Browning, like other candidates, is a fan of the proposed Chamonix project, with an important caveat.
That project, still in the planning stages, would put — at this point — not quite 50 for-sale units on a 3.2-acre parcel roughly behind the West Vail Fire station. That project is seen as a crucial element of the town’s efforts to bring younger families to town and keep them in place long enough to start participating on town boards and other public groups.
Browning said the idea of fewer units and more green space is appealing. But, she said, she’d encourage looking at building housing with less space devoted to parking.
“Instead of 2.4 parking spaces per unit, we can have places where you don’t need a car,” she said. “Maybe we could have car storage… More green space is great, but do we really need more parking?”
Discouraging car use in Vail is good, Browning said, and encouraging fewer cars could help cut the need for parking elsewhere.
“It’s part of being environmentally healthy,” she said, adding that any effort to cut auto use would need to be offset with improvements in the town’s transit system.
No matter what happens with parking, Browning is a strong believer in running town buses later at night, to serve bar and restaurant employees who have had to work until bars’ 2 a.m. closing time.
“We don’t treat our workforce the way we should,” she said.
While Browning is a newcomer to seeking elective office, she said her experience in Vail makes her a good candidate.
“I grasp information quickly,” she said. “And we need to work expeditiously. If I’m selected, I’ll work to do that.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.