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His town, too

Don Rogers

Crossroads owner Peter Knobel expressed exactly the right goal after winning Vail’s election last week.”I think it’s my job now to build such a great project that the 467 people that voted against it say, ‘What’s the big deal?'” he said Tuesday night.Knobel lives in Vail with his wife and young children. So he’ll hear plenty if he fails. But here’s a point that cannot be overstated: He lives in Vail. He’s not really an outsider – one more piece of rhetoric that wasn’t quite true.His words should hearten all but that tiny core of bitter-enders. You might recognize some by their continued cries of “lies, lies, all lies!” while a lawsuit on that very subject sits filed in district court – against the organized opposition. One particularly lost soul e-mailed me casting doubt that such a suit even existed, confirming a slippery grip on reality. Rumors rule with this person, so I can’t say I was surprised.The vote of the people went 70 percent for rebuilding Crossroads according to the plan the town Planning and Environmental Commission and then the Town Council approved in March. That’s a big, big win. Landslides are declared with lesser margins. What could this mean for Vail’s future?Last fall, the voters sent two council members packing pretty much over their vote against Crossroads. Their replacements tilted the council to the 4-3 majority that approved the deal. Then the opposition gathered enough petition signatures to take their case to the voters. Knobel could not have been overjoyed with the delay, but a referendum was the right thing. The people should decide the big decisions if enough of them want to do so.The opposition had a weak hand, though. They hollered about the height and bulk of a big building on the heels of others of about the same size being approved without the fuss. Which led to the obvious question they never could quite answer: Why now? Vail already has the Lodge Tower and Lionshead – and most recently the Vail Plaza and Four Seasons being built in the same neighborhood as Crossroads.They wound up overcompensating, which led to the lawsuit. They argued that if the new Crossroads were built, then Vail surely would supersize all over. To punctuate the point, they superimposed a slightly too-tall image of Crossroads behind Vail’s Safeway in a newspaper advertisement and suggested the Roost Lodge would be rebuilt seven stories high!Only problem was that’s not exactly true. The Roost will be no higher than four stories and 48 feet tall at its tallest point. Those developers, Kevin Deighan and Greg Gastineau, were furious. And they filed suit.It was symbolic, at least to me, of other exaggerations. Claims that Crossroads was rushed through, even though the government gantlet ran two years, then the election, and next will come more reviews. The monstrous height, even though it’s about the same as some neighbors along the Frontage Road. Blotting out views that just about every building in the village blots out now. Traffic projections that have nothing to do with Crossroads. “No” benefits, even though there are. And so on.And, sadly, there was gossip making Knobel’s telecommunication dealings with pornography companies a dozen years ago sound as nefarious as possible, first in the fall campaign and on into this one. The organized opposition stayed clear of that, to its credit, but not everyone did. I hope the 70 percent victory puts an end to such despicable whispering as this in the future. Some of these people ought to be ashamed of themselves. But they’re too lost in something that goes well beyond the height of a building. Small-minded is an understatement.So this aging Crossroads will be rebuilt into Solaris, and the election may signal the final passage of one “guard” to another in community leadership, although plenty of older residents voted for Solaris. In any case, the renaissance is firmly established.There was a legitimate debate connected to Crossroads, only it came several buildings too late, and maybe decades late, if you look at Lionshead and the Lodge Tower hard against Vail Mountain. Vail took an “urban” turn compared to Aspen, Breckenridge and downtown Telluride a long, long time ago. Solaris does not change that, however high the hyperbole. Vail Mountain will continue to tower over the town, in all ways.So the voters wisely and overwhelmingly ratified good decisions by their government leaders. I’d love to take credit for “brainwashing” them with “one-sided” commentaries in favor of the obvious call during the campaign, as some opponents suggested. Very flattering! But they didn’t take my good advice last fall about building that conference center, after all, wary of the public debt. Newspaper opinions only resonate only to the degree they make sense to the readers.Now the real onus is on Knobel to execute the plan so history in turn delivers that key question: “What’s the big deal?”He’d better. It’s his town, too.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 748-2920, or editor@vaildaily.com. Read his blog at http://www.vaildaily.com/section/BLOGVail, Colorado


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