Can Obama answer Vail’s wish list?
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL ” Many towns and other municipalities are clamoring to get some of Barack Obama’s proposed economic stimulus money, and Vail, Colorado is among them.
The town plans to apply for some of the funds for projects such as building an underpass at Simba Run, improving the Frontage Road, or building more employee housing at Timber Ridge and West Vail’s Chamonix property.
There will be much competition for the money from other cities and towns, and the details of the proposed stimulus package, which is designed to encourage job growth in areas of infrastructure and sustainable energy, are vague, said Town Manager Stan Zemler.
The town will be competing organizations such as the Colorado Department of Transportation, which has almost $1 billion worth of road work that could start now, he said.
However, organizations such as the National League of Cities and lawmakers such Senator Ken Salazar are encouraging towns to the town wants to submit their proposed projects.
While no official requirements have come from the federal level, towns are being told to submit projects to senators, members of Congress and lobbyists that are related to public works and infrastructure, such as roadw, and that can start within 180 days, Zemler said.
Town council members said the town doesn’t have any plans that fit those requirements, but they want to submit a list just to get Vail’s requests in the pipeline.
“There’s no downside,” said Councilwoman Margaret Rogers about submitting Vail’s requests.
The requirements of the stimulus package could change, and some of Vail’s projects could qualify, she said.
“In that event, if we don’t have something filed, we don’t have a chance to participate,” Rogers said.
If the town could submit a “wish list,” money to rebuild Timber Ridge ” the town’s largest and aging employee housing complex ” would be at the top, she said.
Councilman Mark Gordon said he would also like to see help on the planned affordable housing project at Chamonix and building a Simba Run underpass.
He’d also like to see solar panels on more city buildings, new roofs on the library and Dobson Arena, and money for more parking, he said.
“Those are all worthy projects,” Gordon said, adding that none of those projects are ready to be built in 180 days. “It’s still important to submit (our projects.) We need to get on the list because when (the package) does get nailed down, I don’t want Vail to be excluded.”
Zemler said that even though it is unlikely that those project will get federal assistance, the requests from cities will let lawmakers know that there are many needs.
“Big part of this is sending a message to Congress and the President-elect that there are tons of infrastructure needs around the country,” Zemler said. “It’s good for the world to know that those needs exist.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.