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Ferry: VR knows how to play the game

Kaye Ferry
Vail CO, Colorado

For those of you who have been following the latest saga between the town of Vail and Vail Resorts, I’ll fill you in on the results of last Tuesday’s meeting.

Vail Resorts has a conditional use permit that was issued to allow their use of first-floor space for offices, something normally not allowed. The intent was to give them some place to locate their offices that were displaced from the Sunbird until, as the original application stated, those offices were permanently relocated in the ArraBelle and/or North Day lot office building.

So what’s the problem? Well, no provision was made for these offices in ArraBelle and the North Day lot project hasn’t even seen the light of day, which leaves Vail Resorts “officeless” in January 2008 unless …



In this case, unless they could get an extension of their current conditional use permit for temporary business offices. But therein was the problem. By definition, the Vail town code clearly states that a “temporary business office is an office for the conduct of general business and service for a duration not to exceed three years.”

Well, the original three years is about to expire so the only solution was to convince the Town Council to change a part of the code that has not only served us well for a very long time but has also been the envy of other resorts. Yet putting all of that aside, the Town Council unanimously voted to change a long-standing code to accommodate, once again, the big guys. Something that would likely have never even been a consideration for another business.



And you might think I’m pointing this out as a means for being critical of Vail. Quite to the contrary. While I spoke against this change at multiple meetings of both the Planning and Environmental Commission and Town Council and still think it is wrong, I always sit back in awe of the sheer balls of it all.

Because, as I’ve said repeatedly, I never fault Vail Resorts for asking. They are simply doing their job. And I applaud them for it. Investors in their company expect it. Their bonuses depend on it. And even when the Town of Vail sees it coming, they seem to be powerless to do anything about it.

And why is that? Oh, it’s really simple. They’re smarter, Vail Resorts I mean. And they have a plan. And they work their plan. Not just sometimes. Not when it’s easy. Not when it’s politically expedient. Not when there’s no other choice. Because unlike the Town of Vail, they always have choices.



And those choices aren’t the result of accidents. Or the stars lining up. They’re a result of planning. And knowing where you’re going. And hiring the best and the brightest to implement those plans. And be sure of this. They don’t take one step without also knowing what the next three are going to be. Because these guys are professionals and it shows.

Then finally, they always have that last ace up their sleeve. The trump card. They plan that, too.

So while it’s all fait accompli, there is some good news for the average guy on the street. Because over and over, in spite of all the eyes rolling in the back of the room, the Town Council insisted that this new revision gave the same options to the rest of the community. This code change was not being made to selectively benefit Vail Resorts.

Any office that was displaced from any other construction project can take advantage of this new rule. Conditional use permits are available to any business that has been displaced and, the best part, there’s no three-year limit.

So I’d suggest that anyone in need of office space, get out there and beat the bushes for anything that’s available, not just the dreaded second floor, hidden from the public options. Go for it. It’s a new day on the first floor in Vail.

Next ” good for the Vail Recreation District! At their July 26 meeting with four of five members present, they voted unanimously not to fund the request from Bright Start for support of the early childhood initiatives. Instead they decided to stick to their mission of providing recreational opportunities in the district, which already has many components geared towards youth of all ages.

For this decision, they should be applauded. It’s not easy to say no to anything concerning kids but they did so for very good reasons.

One board member researched the vote on the child care issue at the last election and found that Vail did not support it. Another simply stated that the county already has a contribution from the Vail taxpayers.

But mostly they seemed to be in unison on the fact that they already do their share of providing programs for children and plan to continue expanding in that direction.

Personally. I think it was the absolute right decision given the fact that they are currently trying to grapple with funding options for their own projects. It wouldn’t seem prudent to spend money unwisely with one hand while trying to raise it with the other.

It’s an important lesson that all government entities should learn. Mind your own business. Play in your own sandbox. Take care of your own responsibilities. Follow your own mission statement. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Government can’t solve everything.

And finally. Sometimes you just have to laugh. Otherwise you’d lose your mind.

Let me start out by congratulating the Town of Vail for cleaning up their recycle area. They built steps for easier access and a raised platform so you can reach the bins without spilling things everywhere. Remember, this is the recycle area. Wouldn’t it have made sense to use recycled materials? Just asking.

Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.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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