Council gets hot under collar
Things are really heating up over at Vail’s Town Hall. Skin is thin. Tempers short. Criticism flowing.Normally these comments refer to the public and their reaction to the powers that be. In this case, it’s not those on this side of the desk that are so frustrated, although don’t discount that, either. No. Those on the other side seem to be developing short fuses with each other and the staff. It’s been a long time – back to the Mike Jewitt days and before that all the way to the time when Mike Cacioppo sat up there – since I’ve seen the council members take pot shots at each other.Tuesday night raised the degree of frustration to a level where a few disruptions occurred and quite frankly it was over an issue that barely raised a question at the afternoon work session. The new developer of the Evergreen Lodge came in with a request to have that property included under the Lionshead master plan.Just a short lesson, but that would mean, for example, that height and density requirements would be guided by the rules governing Lionshead. As an alternative, the developer could employ the special development district process to move his project through the system.Part of the problem with using the special development district lies with what recently occurred and is still fresh in everyone’s mind: Crossroads. The applicant was criticized for not changing the underlying zoning, and of course you all know the resultant fiasco there.While at least one councilman is pushing for the use of a special development district, another one asked what developer in their right mind would ever want to use that again. Seems like a fair thing to ask in view of Mr. Knobel’s recent experience.What ensued from that point was clearly indicative of the general discomfiture on the council right now. Hundreds of hours have been spent on several very big projects and at the end of the day, consensus has been severely lacking. So when another project appeared on the agenda, one that really shouldn’t have been problematic, my grandmother’s old saying came in to play. She used to say, people don’t always scratch where they itch.It’s kind of a funny one, but you’d be surprised how many times it’s applicable. In this case it simply means that all of the frustrations that have been festering as a result of really big and controversial decisions finally were dumped on this semi-innocuous item last Tuesday.What’s more, it didn’t end when the camera stopped running. Voices were raised. Meetings were threatened. Finally, everybody decided to go home before the exchange escalated to another level where things would be said to everyone’s regret the next day.So at least as of last Tuesday, everything is not so happy in the Happy Valley. Frankly, I think a little dose of reality is refreshing in this age of political correctness that we have raised to an art form. Like it or not, people have real feelings, surprisingly even our electeds, and perhaps dealing with them openly would at least make things more interesting.There were some whose witness to last Tuesday thought resignations were in order, at the very least, apologies. I think we just need to get over ourselves and move along. It’ll probably come as a shock to some people, but in the grand scheme of things, what happens around here doesn’t even make the radar screen.Next I’m going to tackle something that has bothered me for a long time. It concerns parking at the town, specifically in the lot immediately outside of the town offices.Those offices are where most of the town’s business is conducted. As a result, we all have to frequent that location in pursuit of parking passes, municipal elections, court functions, construction permits, Town Council sessions, as well as a variety of meetings that are held there.My question is why is there so much difficulty in finding a parking spot when trying to conduct business with the town? The answer is pure and simple. It’s because the town employees take up all the spaces. Of course, I can’t help for a minute to revert to my underlying philosophy that the town employees actually work for us, the taxpayers. On the other hand, when conducting business with the town, we are also the customer.So my next question is why do employees have priority over available parking to the exclusion of the employer and customer? Additionally, they park for free, something else of significant value that few others share. So I guess the final composite question is why do town employees get to park right outside of their work place for free when the taxpayer searches, often in vain, for a space? Particularly in the winter when that hard-sought space costs money. Here’s my suggestion: town employees should be restricted from parking in that lot and start dealing with the parking issue the same as everybody else. There’s a free bus system; $50 passes are available for Ford Park during the season. Blue passes are available in the structure. There are a variety of options. But in no instance should our municipal employees be the recipients of such a benefit to the detriment of the taxpaying community.This is not the end of it. I will continue to harp on this until it’s resolved. And you should, too. You know the drill. Get those letters and e-mails rolling in. I’m told they rarely listen to their voice messages. But hey, they work for us, so I guess that means they call the shots. Did I say that? Somehow that’s twisted. Maybe it’s just me. Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail email@example.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Columnists” or search for keyword “ferry.” Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily. This column, as with all personal columns, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Vail Daily.Vail, Colorado
Gov. Jared Polis declares Sept. 20 Pepi Gramshammer Day at Ford Amphitheater celebration.