Ferry: Eyeing Vail’s priorities
Vail, CO Colorado
On Jan. 22, I attended the Vail town council retreat, something I’ve done every year except the year they held it in Breckenridge.
It’s a kind of touchy-feely, show-and-tell day. The staff presents its recap of the last year and plans for the next. The community survey is reviewed. Again. But most importantly, the council is asked to prioritize their goals for the year. And they did.
Each was asked to list five top areas of concern, areas which they as individual council members view as requiring immediate attention.
While all seven council members listed housing in their top five, only five gave it as their number 1 priority. Mayor Dick Cleveland listed the environment as number 1 while Kevin Foley chose “time management.”
Of all the other possibilities, the environment was the only other topic that made it into the top five of all seven council members. Here are the issues, along with how many council members listed each one:
– Housing: 7
– Environment: 7
– Parking: 3
– Sense of community (an area that plummeted in the community survey): 3
– I-70 noise: 2
– Economic development: 2.
– Tourism, Special Events and Marketing, Budget and Fiscal Responsibility, Arts in Public Places, Vail Recreation District, Time Management, Timber Ridge, and Government Efficiency: 1
As usual, priorities are all over the board. But a couple of these surprised me. Let’s take a look.
Parking. Perhaps parking didn’t make it high on the list because the surveys were prepared in anticipation of the retreat and before the street started filling up with cars bringing skiers responding to the abundant snow we’ve received. At least I hope that’s the reason it received such a luke warm ranking.
Then the economy. I know the town does not view the lackluster sales tax performance coming from the retail business community as any of their concern, but I would argue that point. We are all in the tourism business. So we all must acknowledge that it is a community responsibility to make sure that our collective business thrives.
And as an aside, kudos to Mayor Cleveland. Someone finally gets it with regard to the monthly sales tax reports. For years, the business community has begged for true comparisons on sales tax. Something akin to the Dow Jones averages so we could compare apples to apples when looking at what our economy is really doing. Dick finally asked that our request be turned into a reality, and we look forward to that very valuable piece of information.
But let’s keep moving. The Vail Recreation District. This is one asset in the community that has not received a fair shake in recent times and yet only one person put it on their top 5. Historically, we as a community have left the winter up to Vail Resorts. And by anybody’s standards, they do a great job, and we reap our share of the benefits. Then, we take over for the summer. We bring music and festivals and sporting events. But too long we have overlooked other recreational opportunities. In fact, through lack of support of infrastructure improvements to some of our largest assets, we have neglected a huge summer component. This topic needs to stay in the forefront and receive a strong commitment from the community until these facilities achieve ” a term I hate but clearly should define our goal ” “world class” status for our residents and guests.
I was also surprised, maybe shocked is a better word, to see that budget management and fiscal responsibility only made it on the top 5 list of one councilman, Farrow Hitt. To me this is one element that should appear at the very top of every elected official’s list. But then remember, I’m a Republican, even though ” horror of horrors ” I was once referred to as just another “Vail Daily liberal.” What could I have possibly said to deserve that?
Seriously, though. how can fiduciary responsibility only be mentioned once out of 35
opportunities (seven council members with five chances)?
And finally, I guess this nebulous issue of “sense of community” should be addressed, though I’m not sure how. Remember, it took a nose dive in the last community survey. I think it will ultimately take care of itself when residents believe they are being fairly represented and that their needs are being met.
In the meantime, they have made their lists. All we can do now is wait and see what they do with them. But when it’s all said and done, the process doesn’t work without the public’s involvement. So in the end, it’s up to you.
Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail email@example.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Commentary” or search for keyword “ferry.”
Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a biweekly column for the Daily.
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