Housing, workers and the middle class
VAIL – Affordable housing and supporting the middle class took center stage Monday night at a debate among the candidates for Vail Town Council. Ten candidates are running for five seats on the Town Council. Nine of the candidates showed up Monday night at the forum hosted by the Vail Valley Partnership. Candidate Kevin Foley, an incumbent, did not attend.Margaret Rogers said she’d like to see some of Timber Ridge – Vail’s large, town-owned apartment complex – developed into affordable, for-sale, brownstone-style housing where young professionals could live. People used to talk about nurses not being able to live in Vail, she said.”Now we have to worry about whether the doctors can stay here,” she said.But Bob McKown said that’s not a good idea; Timber Ridge should be all seasonal, for-rent housing. It shouldn’t be a “mixed-use” project, he said.”It’s an oil-and-water mix,” he said.Ever Vail and the upper bench of Donovan Park are better places for for-sale, affordable housing, he said. Or Vail could build affordable housing where the interstate is now, he said, apparently suggesting that the freeway would be buried.
Stephen Connolly said the town shouldn’t financially assist the county in creating affordable housing.”I don’t think the time is right exactly,” he said, but he did advocate a “valleywide solution” for Vail’s housing crunch.However, Dick Cleveland said helping the county with affordable housing is way past due, adding that the recently formed Eagle County blue-ribbon housing panel is essential.”Seventy percent of our workers are somewhere else,” he said.The greatest threat to the town is not being able to provide enough good workers, Cleveland said.”If we can’t supply five-star employees, we’ve lost the battle,” he said.Kim Newbury, an incumbent candidate, said Vail needs full-time residents and neighborhoods that aren’t empty most of the time.
“What you hope for are communities that have people in them,” she said.Setting a goal of having 30 percent of workers living in town, which Vail did earlier this year, was a good start, she said.”We need to shoot for more,” she said.Andy Daly said he fears Vail will lose the diversity of different types of people living in town.”We’re going to end up with the haves and have-nots,” he said.Vail should be a place where people can work and raise their kids, he said.Scott Proper said the it’s not the town’s job to make sure there are businesses in town that will attract the middle class.
“Red Square gave that a shot for 80 years, and it didn’t work so well,” he said.People are going to vote with their wallets regarding what businesses the town should have, he said.Susie Tjossem said it’s not the right time to bump up the town’s “linkage” and “inclusionary zoning” requirements, which seek to get developers to build affordable housing. That would unfairly burden developers who are coming in at the tail end of Vail’s recent building spurt.”I think it’s everybody’s problem, and we need to think about how everyone can contribute to Vail’s success,” Tjossem said.Dave Irwin said he wants to improve the relationship between the Town Council and community at large.”I want this town and this council to be a family again,” he said.The election is Nov. 6. Mayor Rod Slifer and Councilman Greg Moffet are term-limited and will not run again. Councilman Kent Logan has chosen not to seek a second term.