Ex-mayor takes on rec board

Kaye Ferry

As promised, former Vail Mayor Kent Rose came before the Vail Town Council on March 15 to request that they start the process to dissolve the Vail Recreation District. That now puts the ball in the town of Vail’s court.Kent first announced his intention at the Feb. 22 VRD meeting. His request last Tuesday to the Vail Town Council will result in an agenda item for public discussion, probably in April. But he had an additional comment. If the Town Council does not take the initiative to put this question on the ballot, more than likely a citizens’ petition will be circulated and presented for the same purpose.State statute allows for two scenarios to get a special district question before the voters. In this case, since at least 85 percent of the district lies within its boundaries, the town can request dissolution of the district and submit a ballot question to go before the voters of the district.Alternative 2 allows for a citizen-initiated petition for dissolution, also triggering a ballot question and vote. Such a petition would require signatures equal to 15 percent of voters in the last election.Reasons for Mr. Rose making this request came from his observations that the VRD is not responsive to the citizens, Town Council or community needs. He has harbored these thoughts for some time, but stated that the final straw came when the VRD missed a filing deadline resulting in their inability this year to collect a tax approved by the voters in May 2004.He also feels that the town should “control its own destiny” in recreational issues, as well as eliminate the duplication of functions. If this issue fails, his second choice will be to start recall proceedings for the VRD board members known as the “coalition.” The coalition is made up of three VRD board members who ran together for election to take control of the board.But keep in mind, this could get really ugly. The VRD will not go down without a fight, nor should they. Their first public attempt at getting back on track came in the form of a letter to the editor last week. In it they expressed their apology for the misstep and announced the hiring of a consultant to help them assess their financial position and develop a long-range plan. Indeed, to embark on the dissolution process is a complicated and slippery slope. Talk in the hallway afterward included the comment that maybe someone should ask for the resignation of the Town Council as they, too, have been perceived as making some unpopular and costly decisions.The reality is that it’s not really productive for two government entities to go at it. Better that some reasonable approach be explored and tested before we jump off a cliff. And, as I said last week, we also need to revisit the reasons that caused the VRD to be spun off from the town in 1993. Remember, the voters made that decision for what were then thought to be valid reasons. Have they changed? Will the citizens truly be better served by going back to the old system? And there’s more. The financial ramifications have yet to be explored. The best guess, however, is that it will not be cheap to move through the process or sustain a new organization.But this is truly your decision. One vote will be needed from the rec district voters for dissolution. Another vote will be needed from the registered voters in the town for funding. So it’s a long way from over, and I suspect the fireworks have just begun.That’s not the only item that has the community lining up. The Vail Village Homeowners Association has just released its position paper on the proposed conference center.The VVHA has been well represented at the conference center committee meetings that have been going on forever. Their director is one of three people who are not on the committee but have religiously attended meetings that are often a test of endurance.The conclusion that the VVHA has reached provides what is probably the best choice for the residents and taxpayers of Vail. Send the question back to the voters.”Why?” you might ask. Because the homeowners’ interpretation is that some significant things have changed since the original vote. Things like the location, which is no longer being provided by Vail Resorts. Like the glut of new conference center space across the country. Like the enormous losses at the Keystone Center, information that was not available before the vote and have climbed from $1 million to $3.64 million since then. Like an improved economy that does not have everyone searching for methods of salvation. And most importantly, how losses were to be handled was not part of the initial discussion. We now know there will be losses. Forever. And significant.The association also points out that we now have real architectural plans that we did not have at the time of the vote. This very fact adds a new dimension for voters, particularly for those in the immediate area. Some think it’s too big. Others don’t like the traffic implications. And some just plain don’t like the intrusion on their neighborhood, keeping in mind that the current location wasn’t defined at the time of the vote.So the Homeowners Association thinks that the voters should have the opportunity to vote again, now that there is more information available, a budget, a definite location, an approved design, etc., etc., etc. Quite frankly, it’s hard to argue with that logic.If the voters still think this project is good for Vail, they will verify it with a thumbs up. If not, well isn’t that what democracy is all about?Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail For past columns, or search:ferry. Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado

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