Kurz says he’s a pragmatic voice
VAIL – Ludwig Kurz left the office of Vail mayor less than two years ago, when term limits forced him to depart. He’s not taking very long to throw his hat back into the ring.”I still have a passion for Vail,” he said. “With everything that’s going to happen in the next five or so years, I feel there needs to be some mature, strong leadership, and I think I can provide a piece of that.”Kurz is one of 10 candidates seeking a seat on the Vail Town Council in November’s election.Pragmatic is a word Kurz used several times when talking about his style on council. Some of the current members of council are a little volatile at times, he said, and his style is quite different.”I don’t get rattled too easily,” he said. “I would rather listen to a good sound argument or reasoning than to berate anybody or be berated by anybody.”Kurz said he wants to see through some of the developments that were initiated under his watch. He was on council when it worked on the Lionshead redevelopment master plan. His experience will be valuable as redevelopment projects are under way, he said.He’s attended few meetings since he left council in early 2004. He didn’t want to give the appearance of “meddling” with the current council, he said.’This is where it’s going to happen’
Kurz came to Vail in 1966, after his friend Roger Staub became director of the ski school here. The Swiss skier Staub had won Olympic gold in the 1960 giant slalom at Squaw Valley, Calif. Kurz had worked with Staub in Australia.”After he interviewed (at Vail), he called me back and said, ‘If I get the job, you need to come here, because this is where it’s going to happen,'” he said. Kurz had been working at ski mountains in Austria and Australia and had spent some time in Stowe, Vt., as well.So Kurz came to Vail, where he worked for the ski school, eventually serving as director of the ski schools at Vail and Beaver Creek from 1976 to 1984.After working as an engineer for a local construction company for several years, Kurz took a job with Beaver Creek Resort Company as director of community relations.The company is the quasi-governmental agency for Beaver Creek. “If Beaver Creek was a city, we would be the city government,” he said. He works with property owners and merchants in Beaver Creek, and serves as chairman of the Design Review Board.The company is a separate entity from Vail Resorts, although four Vail Resorts representatives sit on the nine-member board of the Beaver Creek Resort Company. Vail Resorts also runs the mountain and owns a large amount of property in Beaver Creek.Thinking to the futureKurz was elected to council in a special election in January 1996 after serving for about two years on the Planning and Environmental Commission. He was named mayor pro tem, or vice mayor, in 1997. He became mayor in 1999 and left office in January 2004.He chose to stay for the two months he was eligible to serve after the November 2003 elections, forcing a special election that cost the town several thousand dollars. He has said one of the reasons he did that was to help newly hired Town Manager Stan Zemler make a smooth transition.
The hiring of Zemler in 2003 is what Kurz cited first as his best accomplishment in his eight years on council. “He seems to the be the right guy at the right time for Vail,” Kurz said.He also mentioned the creation of Middle Creek affordable housing complex, Donovan Park and the Red Sandstone gymnastic facility as among his best accomplishments on council.Burying Interstate 70 through Vail is something the town should look at seriously, he said. The endeavor could cost billions. “I think we need to make a very concerted effort to discuss the possibility of undergrounding,” he said. “It’s a big thing. It’s got to happen.”On the issue of pine beetle-infested trees dying in the forest around Vail, Kurz said the town should look at harvesting dead trees to create energy using biomass technology. “The places I’ve seen it happen in Europe, that’s the kind of vision we on council should have,” he said. “We shouldn’t just think of what’s happening tomorrow and today, but what is this place going to be like in 10 years.”Kurz is a proponent of the proposed conference center. But he said he would not have voted for the latest proposal for the Crossroads complex redevelopment. Because of the sentiment in the community that strongly opposed it, he would have urged the developer and the council to go back to the drawing board.But the project needs to happen, he said, using that “P” word again. “I would work very hard to get out of the emotional state that the two sides are at and become a little bit more pragmatic,” he said.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 604, or email@example.com.