Columnist: Summit County’s got us on this one
Vail CO, Colorado
I’ll admit it up front. I’m not a biker. I mean, I bike. But I do it for the exercise. Not for the joy of it and not because I feel “like one” with my Gary Fisher.
But I do bike around town. And once every week I take a long ride (for me) in Summit County. As some background, I go to Summit because it has a lot of flat ground and well … continue reading.
After four shoulder surgeries, my orthopods have convinced me that if I go on mountain trails, rough surfaces, mud, rocks or anything tricky, I’ll probably be seeing them again. And that’s not in my game plan. So my bike has heavy duty shocks, knobby tires and wierdly concocted handlebars, anything it takes to make the journey less painful for my tempermental upper body.
So generally on Sundays, Gary and I go to Frisco, park the car and unload. And every time I do it, I’m embarrassed for us, meaning Vail. Because, you see, no matter if I ride towards Vail or Dillon, I’m always on beautiful bike paths. And I don’t just mean the scenery through Ten Mile or around the lake.
They’re beautiful for one, simply because they’re there. Then each spring they’re re-done. New black top. New lines. And the most important thing, they go on forever.
So why do I bring this up, you might wonder. I live on the Vail Golf Course. And why someone hasn’t been killed out there is mystery No. 1 to me.
All summer long, Vail Valley Drive, which is very narrow to begin with, shares its space with hikers, bikers (including kids with training wheels), roller bladers, skateboarders, runners, walkers, motorcycles, cars and buses. And of course they’re all abreast because they read in a marketing brochure somewhere that we are a pedestrian village. They interpret that to mean anywhere from Vail Pass to Dowd Junction and are really offended if you suggest they at least leave a path down the center of the road.
Mystery no. 2 is why? Why do we sell ourselves as this Mecca for summer guests and then not provide them with a safe environment for all of these activities? Surely it can’t be economics in a community that is able to spend $94,000 for a bunch of windmills to proclaim to the world that we’re environmentally sensitive at the same time that we’re heating the streets. It’s just plain nuts.
And so you know, the same fund that was raided for the windmills is the same one that is used for bike paths, the RETT fund. Oh sure, if asked, they will tell you that it was Arts in Public Places that did the windmills. But AIPP gets its funding from RETT.
I really don’t know what it’ll take for us to get our priorities straight. Maybe somebody does have to get killed. But as someone who rides a bike, is resident of the community, and believer in some degree of safety, I think we should lobby for more bike paths through the town of Vail because what we have now is pitifully insufficient and dangerous. We all complain about safety on the mountain. Shouldn’t we be held to the same standards that we expect of Vail Resorts?
And while I’m on recreation, this is a good time to bring up the Vail Recreation District.
Earlier this year, the Vail Recreation District and the Vail Chamber and Business Association informally agreed to attend each other’s meetings. The goal is to achieve what the current Vail Recreation District director calls “One Vail,” a term that mimics a philosophy used by our major competitor in British Colombia.
His interpretation of that is we all need to work together towards the common objective of providing the best possible services and programs that meet the needs of the community and our guests. And we should do it in a collaborative way.
And while this may seem simple, it is easier said than done. But the good news is that it is a philosophy that has always been the driving force of the decision-making process for the Vail Chamber and Business Association and it seems to also be the driving force of the Vail Recreation District.
I have to be clear on this. In the past I only attended recreation district meetings when the agenda items were pertinent to something I was concerned with. As a result, I can’t really comment on how that organization functioned on a regular basis before now. What I can say is that how they are approaching their role in the community today is impressive.
With no indictment intended for previous Vail Recreation District boards, this one clearly seems to see the big picture and seems to be dedicated to being stewards of the recreational facilities under their jurisdiction.
They have also made a significant effort to redefine the Vail Recreation District relationship with the town of Vail, its citizens and the business community.
They have met regularly with town officials in an attempt to clarify roles, agreements and contracts that have been nebulous at best in the past.
They recently completed a long overdue assessment of community needs in the form of a master plan for parks and recreation.
They have reached out to employers and employees with some new programs this year meant to encourage golf course usage by the people working every day to keep the economy vital.
And they have taken giant steps in promoting themselves through a wide variety of new communication efforts that keep us up to date what they’re doing.
There’s still a lot of work to be done, but so far the recreation district seems to have the right attitude and are working in the right direction. Keep up the good work.
Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail email@example.com. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Commentary” or search for keyword “ferry.”
Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a biweekly column for the Daily.