Vail’s annual community meeting held virtually |

Vail’s annual community meeting held virtually

Facebook format draws plenty of public comment

Ben Freese on the drums and Nick Steingart on guitar play to a moving crowd in January in Lionshead Village in Vail.
Daily file photo

Instead of the usual in-person meeting, town of Vail officials Tuesday presented a prerecorded, online overview of its 2020 accomplishments and plans for 2021.

The community meeting is traditionally held in March, and usually at the Donovan Pavilion. Public health restrictions short-circuited tradition in 2020, and again this year.

Town officials used their prerecorded segments to talk about the challenges faced by the town in 2020, and many of the accomplishments in working to keep the town open for both guests and residents.

In Vail Mayor Dave Chapin’s segment, he noted that the town is “used to challenges,” and praised residents, businesses and the town for working to keep as much of the town open as possible over the past year.

“Our community showed incredible resolve,” Council member Travis Coggin said in his segment, adding that the town quickly appropriated money for rent relief and small business assistance.

That spending came primarily from the town’s reserves. While the town used its reserves, Vail Finance Director Kathleen Halloran said the town didn’t use any of its reserves for day-to-day operations. Halloran noted that while the town estimated it might take a 21% hit to annual revenues compared to 2019, the actual decline was 7%.

While the 2021 meeting was recorded in advance, the public could weigh in via comments on the town’s Facebook page.

More than 70 comments came in during the roughly 40-minute presentation. A lot of those comments were clearly a way to enter a drawing for a Blue parking pass for the 2021-22 season. Viewers were asked to comment about one thing they learned from the meeting to enter the drawing.

Other commenters congratulated Bill and Sally Hanlon, recipients of this year’s Vail Trailblazer Award. And there were a lot of words of thanks for the job that town employees and others have done in keeping Vail as open as possible.

Commenter Amelie Colleen congratulated the town for its environmental awards and getting to a 30% recycling rate — a new record for the town.

Commenter John Gitchell complimented the town for its installation of the Synexis Defense air purifying systems in its buses and buildings.

Town officials and business owners have said that the town’s creation of outdoor liquor consumption zones was a big part of a successful summer.

Commenter Mark McDonnell asked if those zones would continue. An attempt to keep those zones is being made, but Vail and other towns will need some help in the form of adjustments to state law.

The Vail InDeed program, a big part of the town’s attempt to add 1,000 deed-restricted units between 2017 and 2027, also came in for kudos from some residents.

Commenter Paula Fischer wrote, “As a Realtor here in the Vail Valley I have assisted local clients who have benefitted greatly from the Vail InDeed program. They would not have been able to afford a home in Vail if not for this program.”

The high points

Here are the high points of Tuesday’s presentations during the Vail Community Meeting:

The town actually started recession planning in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The town’s overall revenue was down 7%. The expected decline was 21%.

The town didn’t have to dip into its reserves to fund operations.

375 residents are living in deed-restricted housing thanks to the Vail InDeed program.

View the entire presentation on the town’s Facebook page.

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