Community meeting in Vail draws a big crowd |

Community meeting in Vail draws a big crowd

NWS Town Meeting DT 3-13-12

VAIL, Colorado – It’s hard to jam everything going on in Vail these days into just more than 90 minutes, but Vail Mayor Andy Daly gave it a shot Tuesday at the town’s annual community meeting at Donovan Pavilion.

The room was filled with full-time and part-time Vail residents, as well as people who live elsewhere in the valley.

And there was plenty of information to be had. Town departments had exhibits around the perimeter of the room, as did the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

But most of the information was provided by Vail Mayor Andy Daly and Adam Sutner and Jeff Babb of Vail Resorts.

Daly went through the town’s financial situation – sales tax revenues set an all-time record in 2011, but the town’s real estate transfer tax collections are at roughly 2004 levels. Daly also provided information and answered questions about town projects completed in the last year and projects still in the works.

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Of all the projects discussed, the one that drew questions was the town’s planned sale of a half-acre of land to a partnership of Vail Valley Medical Center, the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. If the $5 million sale is completed, the medical partners will build a medical office building on the west end of the town hall property. The town will use money from the sale, and about $10 million in reserve funds, to build a new town hall on the east end of the property.

Resident Greg Strahan asked Daly why the town was selling, not leasing, the property to the partnership. Daly replied that the sale is necessary for the medical partnership to get financing for the project.

Babb and Sutner spent quite a bit of time talking about the new gondola planned for Vail Mountain this year.

Babb almost immediately answered a question that’s been bouncing around the valley almost since the gondola was announced: Why not take the new lift to the top of the mountain instead of stopping at Mid-Vail?

Babb said taking the gondola all the way to the top of the mountain would nearly double the cost, because it would have to make a sharp turn at Mid-Vail. The company’s resources would be better spent on a six-place or eight-place lift from mid-mountain to the top, he said.

Sutner also went into some detail about plans for Vail’s 50th anniversary, which include an expansion of Vail Snow Daze events, as well as a community celebration for the resort’s pioneers. Some of the costs of the celebration will be covered by the sale of 50th anniversary gear, which could include skis and snowboards, Sutner said.

After the meeting, lifetime Vail resident Chris Parks said he’d learned a lot.

“It would have been nice to learn more about some other projects, but they did a good job in the time they had,” Parks said. “We’ll see how the 50th anniversary develops. I hope they do it right.”

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