‘I don’t play the game’ – Diana Donovan
VAIL – Diana Donovan says it’s her responsibility to bring her experience in Vail – 40 years as a resident, decades as a business owner, six years as a councilwoman, raising a family here – to the Town Council.”I watched it all come together, I know how it came together, why it came together, what we did right, what we did wrong,” she said.But she doesn’t want Vail to live in the past, she said. After her recent opposition to a proposal for the redevelopment of the Crossroads complex and to the conference center ballot initiative, some say Donovan is resistant to change. But that’s not true, she said. Vail has to change, but does have to retain its “postcard image” that attracts visitors, she said.”You grow and change,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you look different. … If you don’t grow and change, you’re dead. And the last I checked, we’re incredibly alive.”Developer Peter Knobel withdrew his plans for a new Crossroads complex after the council voted, 4-3, against his plan in August.Some of the misconceptions about her may stem from her style on council, she said. She is direct and can come across as negative in the way she asks critical questions, she said.”I don’t play the game,” she said. “No one has to guess where I’m coming from.”A cup of teaA poor shot off the fourth fairway of the Vail Golf Course could hit the back of the Donovans’ home, and one cracked window in her kitchen is testament to that.
The modest Homestake Circle house was on Vail’s outskirts when she and her husband moved in in 1971. They bought it in the under-$100,000 price range, and it now sits among multi-million dollar second homes. “It’s the only one on the street that looks lived in,” she said in giving directions.Even if Vail has developed by leaps and bounds around her home, some cite Donovan’s fancy address as a reason she’s out of touch with “new Vail.”But Donovan said anyone who knows her knows that’s not true. She has as many friends who are in their 20s as she does who are in their 60s, she said. She doesn’t belong to any social circle and she doesn’t kowtow to any special interest, she said.”I am the purest representative for the whole community,” she said.Donovan first came to Vail in January 1965 – Vail’s third winter – to take a job at the Night Latch, a dormitory where the Mountain Haus now sits. She had recently graduated from college with a degree in archaeology, and was waiting for her dream job to open up at the Museum of Natural History in New York.But she came back for a second winter, and ran into an acquaintance named John Donovan as she walked up still-dirt Bridge Street. “He said, ‘I remember you. Can I buy you a cup of tea?'” she said. “I just remember it was such a big deal that he was buying me a cup of tea.”They married in 1967. The Donovans operated Donovan’s Copper Bar, where Vendetta’s is now, from 1966 until 1982. It became a community gathering place for the nascent village.”All the worker bees were in there, and it became a place where you would actually find President Ford at one end of the bar and a ski patroller at the other end,” she said.John Donovan was a Vail councilman from 1966 to 1980.After they lost the bar because of a lease dispute, the Donovans bought out their partners in the co-op that provided trash service to Vail. Since then, the family has owned Vail Honeywagon, which now hauls trash for residents and businesses from Vail to Gypsum.Accomplishments and ideas
Donovan has served on the council since 1999. She was re-elected in 2001. If re-elected again, she would only be able to serve for two years because of term limits. Donovan said her best accomplishments on council over the last six years include the creation of Vail Memorial Park, which she initially opposed. But once the council decided to move forward, she took a lead role in making sure it was built on time and on budget.She cited a similar role in the creation of Donovan Pavilion, which she helped bring to fruition though she didn’t know then it would be named for her husband.The streetscape project is another thing she’s proud of. She made sure the project had an “Old World” look with water features for year-round effect, she said.Donovan wants to see Crossroads redeveloped, but the “vertical” architecture of the latest proposal was not in line with “horizontal” Vail Village, she said. The building was tall and the architecture made it seem taller and urban in nature, she said. She would have liked to see a more stair-step approach, she said.”The project needed to fit into the community, and (Knobel) needed to address it the same way everyone else has, which is moving your mass around to conceal the height and the bulk,” she said.She opposes the conference center because it will primarily aid large hotels and have little benefit for other parts of the business community, she said. She also said it won’t help bring as much business in the offseason as is being touted. Plus, it’s going to cost more than predicted due to increases in construction prices, she said. “The council is still responsible for balancing the budget, and if we can’t pay for it, we can’t proceed,” she said. But she will help make it happen if the funds are available to pay for it, she said.Assertions that she’s anti-development are not correct, she said. She voted for Lionshead redevelopment, and her questions during the process helped reduce the bulk of Arrabelle at Vail Square project, she said.One initiative that she’ll work on if re-elected is looking at the way Vail manages its recreational facilities. The town of Vail owns the facilities, which are leased to the Vail Recreation District. She said the current arrangement leaves the rec district without the borrowing power it needs to make improvements to the facilities.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 604, or firstname.lastname@example.org.