Ferry: Vail’s leaders need to grow up
Vail CO, Colorado
Well, I’ll start with the news ” good or bad depending on your perspective. I’m back! By that I mean, I’m back to writing every Wednesday!
A little over a year ago, I went from a weekly column to bi-weekly. However, for the sake of continuity and timeliness, it was sometimes problematic. Yet I have to admit, when Tamara suggested I come back to weekly, I hesitated. But I’ve been convinced there’s too much going on, so I’m back.
Of course, in the town of Vail, topics are always abundant and this week was no exception.
What a doozy. You’ve heard me say repeatedly that just when I think I’ve seen it all, bang, out of the blue, right between the eyes. And I have to say, this one got everyone’s attention.
As the story goes, after the Battle Mountain prom at Donovan Pavilion, a group of kids decided that adding a little graffiti was the way to cap off the evening.
What they didn’t know was that the entire event was being caught on a surveillance camera. Only two of the boys, however, were identified.
Long story short, part of the ensuing negotiation included their appearance at last Tuesday’s Vail Town Council meeting where they were to apologize, etc. And it was the etc. that was appalling. Clearly, you need to watch the tape to see just how inappropriate the entire fiasco was.
One by one the council members grilled each kid. But the truly embarrassing finale was the insistence by the mayor that they divulge the names of their accomplices. And it wasn’t a request, it was a severe example of the belligerent schoolyard bully.
The kids apologized, which by the way, was all they had agreed to do. Then they answered questions. Then they gave the town the money to repair the damage ($400). And they did it in front of the council, the audience, the TV cameras and a room full of kids who were there.
Now, no one thinks they should have done what they did. But at the end of the night, you really had to question if there were any adults in the building.
I can honestly say, to a person, the room was shocked and embarrassed. Even a teacher who tried to speak on the boys’ behalf was rudely silenced. As I said, appalling doesn’t even come close.
Watch the tape. It was pretty shocking. TV5: Sunday, 9a.m.; Tuesday, 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Thursday, 7 a.m. and 6:55 p.m.
Then we moved along to an amendment to Ordinance 1, series 2008, regarding inclusionary zoning and commercial linkage, and methods used to mitigate employee housing requirements.
The original ordinance did not prioritize the preferred methods for mitigation.
At their December meeting, the housing authority determined that on-site mitigation was the preference. More importantly, they forwarded a recommendation that 50 percent of the required employee housing mitigation be required on site for new construction and demo/rebuild projects.
No sooner had the proposal been read, when the question was asked: “What discretion does the (planning and environmental commission) and the (town council) have to exempt a business that provides a benefit to the town?” Huh?
Let’s be more specific. If the Vail Valley Foundation was to move back to Vail, which would be a benefit to the town (says who?), could they be exempted from this requirement?
Or another. If the hospital was to expand, could they be exempted?
And it went on. But the curious part was that the question was being asked, and forcefully I might add, by a councilman who just happens to sit on both of those boards. I suppose we are to believe it’s just a coincidence. What it sounded like to me was: “What exemptions can we make for the people who we schmooze with?”
But then whoever said that elected officials represent all of us, equally?
I was later asked if I was truly surprised. You bet. I’m always surprised when people are so blatantly self-serving. I guess we’re not supposed to notice.
But second reading is on May 20 if you disagree with this onerous requirement. Johannes Faessler indicated that if the ordinance had been in place when he developed the Sonnenalp, he wouldn’t have done it. Just to keep it in perspective, the Lionshead parking structure redevelopment would require more than 100 employee beds on site.
But before I move on, two questions. Does anyone really care if the Vail Valley Foundation lives in Vail? And isn’t the hospital one of the very employers that need critical employees living in town?
And in case that wasn’t enough fun, the advisory committee met on Wednesday to discuss the recent revisions for the Chamonix/ Hud-Worth/Wendy’s site. And of course, once again, we’re way out ahead of ourselves.
We don’t know the target market, much less the price point we’re going for.
We don’t know if the town is donating the land to the project or selling it to a developer.
We don’t know what kind of density is acceptable.
The whole ambulance district request is totally unclear.
We don’t know if modular units, which are being suggested as a way to keep the costs under control, will be approved under our codes.
Need I go on? Why do we consistently get so far down the road when we haven’t answered the most basic questions? And by the way, what difference does it make anyway when they change the rules at the goal line?
This discussion is also scheduled for the May 20 meeting.
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 “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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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.