Europe’s still a good model |

Europe’s still a good model

Jim Lamont

The following is the second installment from the Vail Valley Homeowners Association’s 2005 Annual Long Report to the association’s membership and constituencies. The full report can be obtained on the association’s Web site http://www.vailhomeowners.comCommunity visioning: The association explored solutions to protect the long-term future of the community’s quality of life and economy. A first-hand assessment, with the town of Vail, of world-renowned European winter resorts was carried out. It reaffirmed that Vail should continue to draw upon its European precursors for solutions and market development opportunities. Exploratory studies were prepared demonstrating the feasibility of removing I-70 from the community. Other studies are under way to assess other critical issues that could become effective models for the community. It is concluded that the community should prepare a long-range grand vision plan and strategy that addresses the foregoing possibilities, as well as other viable options.The redevelopment under way in Vail’s resort town center, Vail Village and Lionshead, is bringing nearer to completion a vision for the community that was planned in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The vision of the 1970s is inadequate to address the challenges and opportunities that have arisen since it was conceived. These are challenges, such as environmental deterioration from increased utilization of Interstate 70 and opportunities to make progress on issues such as affordable housing and community amenities.In recent years the removal of impediments to redevelopment has stimulated sufficient capital investment to complete comprehensive civic improvements, such as the Vail Village streetscape plan. This 1970 project languished uncompleted for nearly three decades for lack of funding. Likewise, redevelopment opened the opportunity to solve long-standing quality-of-life conflicts over shortcomings in infrastructure facilities. The enclosing of truck loading and delivery facilities throughout Vail Village and Lionshead are a prime example. Lionshead is receiving major private investment in commercial and residential projects, which is intended to lead to a general upgrading of an area that had begun to show signs of aging. If redevelopment continues at or near its current pace, it will take the better part of a decade to fully complete the planned improvements. Therefore, the time is nearing when the community must begin to conceive a vibrant and challenging new long-term vision for itself. The newfound vision should be firmly linked to the insight, energy and commitment that guided its first half-century. The creation of such a vision must be a mutually shared effort. Otherwise, it will not endure. It should also be founded in overcoming adverse factors, which if left unresolved threaten the community’s quality of life and economic viability.Considerable effort must be made to ensure that Vail’s emerging potential is brought to a wider national and international market. Every effort must be made to ensure that the community continues its positive momentum at a pace which builds upon wisely calculated innovation and investments. Any sign of flagging towards the pursuit of a proactive future and the highest standard of excellence could discourage forward-thinking investors.There is concern that more attention should be directed at growth-related issues. The association is concerned that development should be evaluated in light of its ability to pay for community improvements that are a subsequent outcome of new growth and development. There is a need to begin to impose standardized impact fees to be applied to a wide range of community needs required as a result of new development. Currently, impact fees are assessed in an ad hoc method inconsistently applied from project to project. The current method of assessing impact fees is being criticized from within the development industry itself. Therefore, to reduce conflict within the industry and community about what constitutes an impact fee or public benefit, it is recommended that a system of standardized impact fees be implemented. The association has begun the exploration of constructive opportunities that may be worthy of consideration in shaping a compelling and practical image for the community’s future. In principle, there are many advantages for Vail to continue drawing upon its European antecedents for inspiration and guidance. It is recognized that the Vail community should not become a parody of European accomplishments, but must reshape appropriate solutions to its own unique purposes. Toward this end, the association’s executive director, accompanied by the director of public works for the town of Vail, conducted a firsthand assessment of world-renowned European winter resorts. The primary mission of the assessment was: n To identify methods that could be applied to overcome the consequences of the environmental deterioration and proposed expansion of Interstate 70, as well as other environmental blights such as pine beetle. n Assess the European winter resort population as a potential source to broaden the Vail destination guest market. n Better understand the role that cultural and other forms of tourism could have in building community and which lend themselves to diversifying the destination guest experience and market. n Identify technological advancements and other innovations which could enhance Vail’s competitive position as a resort, invigorate its quality of life and sense of community.It was found that there are several technological solutions and other economic opportunities that could be successfully transferred and adapted to benefit Vail, both in the short and long term. There are advantages for Vail to continue drawing upon its European antecedents for inspiration. To achieve substantive progress in any of these areas of investigation will require a cooperative effort among several community organizations.Research has been initiated to probe further into these areas of assessment. A series of reports and whitepapers are in preparation. A whitepaper concerning long-range options to remove I-70 from the community has been prepared. Jim Lamont was the town of Vail’s first director of community development (1972-77). The executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners Association is a professional town planner and has been involved in most aspects of Vail’s development during his career. Vail, Colorado

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