Daily Editorial: Vail on the move in 2007
Vail CO, Colorado
For a relatively small town, Vail was a big player in many ways over the previous year. Reviewing a recap from the town of significant events, programs and initiatives from 2007, it’s hard not to be impressed by the town’s progressive stance on a variety of things often identified as important by mountain residents. Those include environmental and economic stewardship, a more aggressive stance on worker housing, shepherding the reconstruction going on all over town, and even some smaller things important to particular members of the community, like the rejuvenated skate park atop the Lionshead parking structure and improvements to the kayak park.
With so much going on, it’s critical that the town’s staff and elected officials were willing to act as both partner and traffic cop at the center of it all. In general, we think they did a good job. Formation of an economic development division was a step in the right direction. Even if it’s another layer of bureaucracy, keeping an eye on the town’s economic future is vital to us all, and the goal of creating more of a year-round economy is a valid one. We do have some concerns about the amount of tax gravitating to the town ” we disagreed with the implementation of a construction use tax. We also are critical of the council’s handling of the Seibert Circle remodel. The project’s budget has more than doubled since 2005. But it’s also true that a tourist-dependent town like Vail needs to keep its shine on. And we’ve seen a lot of that tax money go to good use in projects like the streetscape initiative, purchase of wind power, forest health, a new fire station for West Vail and recycling programs, among others. (See http://www.vailgov.com for a complete list of what the town is doing with taxpayer dollars.)
Other encouraging signs from the town of Vail include planning for the future with the “20/20 Strategic Action Plan,” which solicited community member input to be applied to land use decisions, recreation, environment, housing, transportation and other matters. Also put in place in 2007 was a comprehensive recreation plan, which outlines improvements on the horizon for town facilities such as Ford Park and the golf course.
Finally, the town is getting more serious about worker housing and made strides in the past year with new “linkage” regulations to get new development to pay its way housing-wise, as well as so-called “inclusionary zoning” to reserve 10 percent of new residential for worker housing. Redeveloping the Timber Ridge complex as well as working with Vail Resorts to fulfill its housing obligation for the Arrabelle project were also positive steps that should add to the worker bed-base, though it would be tremendously helpful if we had that worker bed-base right now.
It’s true that Vail collects a lot of money in taxes, but it also appears that, for the most part, the town is putting it to good use with things that make sense for our bustling resort community. We look forward to another year of progressive leadership from Vail in 2008.
” Alex Miller for the Editorial Board