How should Vail spend $9.3 million? |

How should Vail spend $9.3 million?

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyOne project proposed at Ford Park includes an expansion of the recreation fields and relocation of the public bathrooms. The Vail Recreation District wants to build two recreation fields at Ford Park, fields that the district's Executive Director Mike Ortiz said would drive the economy because more events could be hosted simultaneously. He said the fields would also keep people in town throughout the day and would put heads in beds.

VAIL, Colorado – The town of Vail is seeking input on projects that would utilize the $9.3 million conference center funds in an effort to hurry up and get voters’ permission to use the money before time runs out.

The town hosted an open house Tuesday afternoon in which about 20 local residents showed up. Some community members brought along their own ideas for projects, including a town of Vail recording studio that would attract world renowned musicians, said John and Eileen Goode.

The Vail town staff hopes to present a list of viable projects to the Vail Town Council on May 3 after gathering input from the public in the coming weeks.

Some community members Tuesday felt the proposals were being rushed, however. Former Vail Councilman Joe Staufer asked whether it might be more prudent to wait a while and gather more input from the public and not just the select few interest groups who “want to get their hands on the money.”

The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens also showed the town its long-range master plan Tuesday, which doesn’t entirely fit in with the Vail Valley Foundation’s Ford Park proposal.

The problem is that the town’s attorneys are saying it’s time to move on a vote. Voters must approve the specific projects that would utilize the funds, and since voters have already once voted down a project utilizing the funds in a 2005 election, the projects proposed this time around must pass or else the town must refund the money.

The money was collected from 2002 through 2005 through a special sales and lodging tax in order to increase lodging occupancy and overall economic activity in Vail.

A refund would mean a lower lodging tax over a period of time to essentially “return” the money.

“We have been given advice that we should go to the voters … within a reasonable time frame,” Zemler said.

The town has sat on the money since 2005 and Zemler said the reasonable time frame appears to be approaching its end, according to the town’s legal advice.

In addition to input from the public, the town hopes the groups with projects at stake can be more collaborative. The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and the Vail Valley Foundation, for example, have said they hope to work together, although representatives from both groups said Tuesday they’re both unwilling to significantly change their plans.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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