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Eagle-Vail election canceled

Tamara Miller

Two candidates and two open board member seats equals no contest this spring for the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District’s board of directors.

The election is canceled and newcomers Christie Banowetz and Bob Finlay are automatically appointed to serve four-year terms on the board. They will begin serving May 4, which would have been the election date.

Four people filled out nomination forms, but Bruce Mielke and incumbent Andrew Cuomo asked to be removed from the race, said Kim Ahmad, manager of administration for the district.



“I just have other things between my business and my family that my time is more valuable for,” said Cuomo, who works for Vail Realty.

In addition to Cuomo’s seat, board member Bonnie Wood was prevented from running again for her seat because of term limits.



Linda Rice, public information officer for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, said an election for a special district can be called off at any time before the election date so long as it is not called off before March 2. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs oversees special district elections.

Finlay, an Edwards resident who has owned property in Eagle-Vail for eight years, said he was prompted to run for the board after watching the Eagle-Vail Golf Course’s finances plummet as newer golf courses have been built in the Vail Valley. He had hoped that both of the open seats would be filled by Eagle-Vail residents, but said he is eager to serve on the board.

Candidates need not be residents of Eagle-Vail to run for the board, but they must own property in Eagle-Vail.



“I have been involved in the last year-and-a-half giving suggestions on what to do to change it,” he said. “But you are not very effective when you are in a community with no voting power.”

The metro district has endured controversy in recent years. A highly publicized altercation between board director J. Halburnt and a Denver resident at the golf course last summer prompted criticism and even a request from his fellow board members that he resign. Halburnt reportedly blew up at David Frans after Frans hit a golf ball too close to the board director’s head. Halburnt still serves on the board.

Others close to the metro district have expressed concern over former golf pro Mark Kizzire’s management. The district has now hired Zack Ray, a former assistant professional for the Eagle Springs Golf Course, as the new golf pro.

Banowetz, who has lived in Eagle-Vail since 1992, said she is “thrilled” with the new hire. “I like this guy,” she said. “I think he is going to breathe a brand new fresh air into Eagle-Vail.”

The district also has hired a new food and beverage director for Mulligan’s, the golf course restaurant. John Felizzi has worked for the Breckenridge Ski Corporation and the Mt. Mansfield Resort in Stowe, Vt. He also worked as a vice president and director of food service for Vail Associates. Mulligan’s, which has been closed for the winter, is expected to re-open April 30, Ahmad said.

Like Finlay, Banowetz said the golf course needs to be run more like a business to succeed.

“The metro district is a little bit behind on the concept that it is a business,” she said. “It’s not an exclusive golf course, it’s a public course. I don’t think they got that picture until it was too late.”

Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: tmiller@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.


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