End of an era?
I listened to an interview with Warren Buffet and his reflection on principles that have guided his life. One in particular: “You can afford to lose money. You can’t afford to lose your reputation. Not one shred of it.” My father used to say the same thing with one exception. You can’t afford to damage your good name. Maybe the wording is different, but the sentiment is the same. Unfortunately for us, but more for them, the Crossroads opponents either never learned that lesson or forgot it. At least the reputation, good name part. They shamelessly and permanently damaged their good names and credibility during this election process, which resulted in 70 percent of Vail’s voters approving the reconstruction plans approved this spring by the Town Council. I was being interviewed by a reporter from the Denver Post on Tuesday. He made the statement that this issue (Crossroads) is bigger than the conference center. I said yes, but it’s even bigger than Crossroads itself. He looked at me quizzically and asked me to explain. I said he had just witnessed the changing of the guards. The younger generation became involved even though, contrary to opinion, they didn’t rule the day. Yet they will be the ones living with these decisions, so it’s only right that they help form that future.As part of my recap, I’m going to take a minute to review some of the things that bothered me the most in the last few months.One opponent was quoted saying the face of Vail politics has changed forever. Thank God. I only hope it’s true. But I would venture to say that the big change came three years ago when this little mountain town was thrust into a new kind of politics. One where no longer was $75 or $250 or even $500 enough to win an election. $17,000 was the price tag to take a political unknown down from his house on the hill into a council chair. Yet nobody screamed about it. So why was getting the younger population registered cause for a lynching? That should have been an admirable goal, regardless of your position.Second, a “new and inexperienced” council that supposedly is clueless made this irresponsible Crossroads decision. Let’s think about that. It seems to me that an older more experienced council made the decisions on ArraBelle, Four Seasons and Vail Plaza Hotel and others before those. Why didn’t we rail on about their incompetence?Then the “excessive” financial return for the developer. I think we can all see the hypocrisy in those statements, especially when you consider the sources. What a joke.The attacks on the younger voters were particularly offensive. How arrogant of anyone to think their vote has more value than the other guy’s. Watch out. Next they’ll want IQ tests and financial statements.And of course, the gross exaggerations were endless as well as the blatant misrepresentations. For example, the overlay of Crossroads on Safeway and the threat of 10-story buildings on Bridge Street were laughable, if not downright insulting. So to say that I was disappointed in the attack that was waged would be putting it mildly. And of course, the attack is a direct reflection on the organizers personally. Which is one of the reasons for the lawsuit. I’ll say it again. The community was held hostage for a flex of ego. And an expensive flex at that. The estimates are upward of $40,000 for a fight that was doomed from the start. The developer was billed as the bad guy. As far as I can tell, he researched the rules, asked questions, followed direction and presented a plan that was approved multiple times.But that didn’t stop those that were totally out of touch with the community, including several Town Council members. Which brings me to those votes who were in touch. All 1,110 of them. Because in my mind, that says it all. A 70 percent approval is about as good as it gets in an election. But it is even more interesting if you look a little further.The Crossroads team did a lot of analysis of the Vail voter. While the county shows 4,081 registered voters, the town only shows 4045. Team Crossroads, however, could only come up with 3,156. This was ascertained after mailings returned with “addressee unknown” numbered almost 900. They may be living at a different address now, but legally your current residence is supposed to match the address on file.Nonetheless, Team Crossroads used 3,156 for all of their research, mailings and evaluations They came up with some interesting statistics. Of the 3156 eligible voters, 514 are over 60 years old. Of those, 338 voted (66 percent). There were 854 eligible voters under 30 and of those, 249 voted (29 percent). I’m not sure all what it means, but clearly the under 30s didn’t carry the election. The election was a landslide because of the will of the middle-age groups, 30-60. But then I’m not sure what the acceptable age for voting is with the opponents – maybe 30 is too young, or is it 40? Or perhaps it’s simply anyone that doesn’t agree with them.Yet the good news is that the will of the majority prevailed. Yeah! But it’s not over. The town Design Review Board now needs to do its job as quickly as possible. There is no need to drag this on any longer.Now the hazard ordinance. On July 24, the town Planning and Environmental Commission will consider a proposal for “fire hazard” zones. The effect will be the same as avalanche or flood plains. Your insurance rates will go up, property values down and construction costs escalate. Until we allow trees to be cut down, it won’t make any difference because until then, the whole town’s a fire hazard. Let’s deal with reality before we simply add more costly rules. You’d better call someone or go to the meeting if you care.Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail email@example.com. 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. Vail, Colorado