Cleveland: Housing, parking top Vail’s priorities
Mayor of Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
In preparing for our recent Vail Town Council goal-setting session, it became clear to us that our progress will largely be measured by what we accomplish between now and the next municipal election in November 2009. So, when the town council gathered with the staff to identify priorities, we resisted creation of a long list of possibilities and instead chose to focus on the critical few. Here’s a recap of our Jan. 22 discussion:
Topping our list of priorities is the issue of workforce housing. While Vail’s redevelopment is an essential component in our quest to maintain resort competitiveness, these projects are generating additional jobs and, therefore, putting a strain on the inventory of available housing. We recognize that our current goal of having 30 percent of our workforce living in Vail is a starting point, and ultimately we hope to become instrumental in facilitating additional workforce housing, both in Vail and elsewhere.
Our goals include development of a strategic housing plan that will give us the tools we need to pursue a permanent funding source. We also identified the redevelopment of Timber Ridge Village as an essential project as we look to double the number of affordable rental units. Look, too, for new housing to be brought on line with development of the Chamonix parcel in West Vail. And lastly, we’ll continue to work with Vail Resorts on a plan to fulfill the 120-bed housing requirement that was tied to approval of the Arrabelle at Vail Square. These projects alone could bring as many as 800 to 1,000 net new beds to our community. We will also continue to be open to other initiatives that will create even more housing opportunities in Vail.
Our second priority revolves around the issue of parking, transportation and circulation.
In the past, Vail’s need for 1,000 additional public parking spaces has been identified. It’s now time to bring closure to the lingering question of where to build those spaces and how and when to activate a $4.3 million parking pledge from Vail Resorts. This will require key decisions on whether to proceed with redevelopment of the LionsHead parking structure as well as finalizing public parking opportunities proposed for the Ever Vail development in West LionsHead. Other parking options will be explored, including an underground scenario at Ford Park. An updated transportation master plan is in the works and will help guide us in the areas of a new transit center, enhanced skier drop-off and the feasibility of an underpass at Simba Run.
Environmental sustainability is the third priority on which to focus during the next 18 months. Specific actions will be identified, ranked and funded following completion of a sustainability plan. The plan will address improved recycling, recommendations on a green building code and upgrades to the Gold Medal status of Gore Creek, among other suggestions. Thanks to a commendable decision by the previous town council to expand use of the Real Estate Transfer Tax for environmental purposes, we are well positioned to make continued advances in environmental stewardship. The 2008 budget, for example, provides $250,000 for such purposes, including water-quality improvements, recycling upgrades and energy-efficiency initiatives.
Our remaining area of focus will involve an assessment of the town’s immediate and long-term budgetary needs and the town’s ability to meet its financial obligations. The new construction use tax, housing fee-in-lieu and tax increment financing will be factored into the discussion. In March, we will consider the most appropriate way to allocate an estimated $650,000 in additional property taxes generated by the recent reassessment process. We’ll also discuss a possible ballot issue to address the use of the $9.3 million conference center fund.
We have a lot of work to do in the next 18 months, and we invite you to join us in our upcoming discussions. The town council meets the first and third Tuesday of the month. Agendas are posted on our website at http://www.vailgov.com.