Bus battle continues with developer | VailDaily.com

Bus battle continues with developer

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

AVON ” When Jim Reiter sees people walking on the railroad tracks to work at Wal-Mart, he said, he’d rather see them on his bus.

But the bus driver knows that until someone makes a bold decision, his loyal ex-passengers from Buffalo Ridge and Wal-Mart, who recently lost their stops on the Avon route, are out of luck. Reiter himself is a resident at Buffalo Ridge.

“These people are my passengers ” I’d like to see it restored somehow,” Reiter said.

Reiter aired these frustrations at a meeting of the Traer Creek Metropolitan District, the entity responsible for building roads and funding basic services such as snowplowing and police and fire protection to the Village at Avon, which includes Wal-Mart, Home Depot and the Buffalo Ridge affordable housing complex.

This was the first metro district meeting since the Avon Town Council decided to end bus service to the Village at Avon at the end of April, saying it didn’t have the money to keep it going and that the metro district should be paying instead. The viewpoints since the decision, from both the town and the metro district, haven’t changed.

The town, while admitting that the metro district has no legal obligation to pay for bus service, believes the district has a moral obligation to pay. The district, which is controlled by developer Traer Creek LLC, insists there is no such obligation and that Avon started a service it couldn’t continue. Both sides say they don’t have the money to fund the bus stops.

Meanwhile, people are having a hard time getting to work and buying groceries, Reiter said.

Reiter was joined at the meeting by Monica Ruiz, another Buffalo Ridge resident, and Rich Carroll, an Avon councilman.

“I had two jobs — I had to quit one because of this,” said Ruiz, who is a single mother with three children. She said she really couldn’t afford to quit that job, but without the bus, she couldn’t get there on time.

Ruiz expressed her frustrations publicly to the Avon Town Council, and the council encouraged her to make her case to the metro district. Members of the metro district made no indication that they would be changing their minds anytime soon.

“Where are we supposed to go if everyone is shutting their doors? Who will give us answers?” Ruiz said.

Carroll came on a diplomatic note and said he wanted to change the tone of discourse between the metro district and Avon. He said he wasn’t interested in pointing fingers ” he just wanted to brainstorm solutions with metro district board members and find some common ground.

One solution suggested in the past by mayor Ron Wolfe is to have the metro district increase its sales fee by .5 percent, which would amount to an extra 50 cents on a $100 bag of groceries at Wal-Mart. Metro district president Dan Leary said he didn’t know if the district legally could do that, and if it is an option, he’s not sure they’d want to raise the fee.

Other suggestions, such as asking bus riders to pay a fee and starting an on-call bus service for Buffalo Ridge residents, were discussed.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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