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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

This letter is in support of the positions stated by Phil Long in his recent columns.

I particularly liked his perception of cars parked along the Frontage Road as being the “sign of money” – or, perhaps more meaningfully, the “sign of prosperity.”

Indeed, Vail needs to cultivate and respect all visitors, whether they be Buddy Pass holders from the Front Range, downvalley commuters or destination vacationers.

As stated by Don Rogers in Quick Takes (April 24), Front Range guests have helped sustain us through a downturn in the economy and, consequentially, a downturn in destination guests.

We must assist in keeping the viability of the “resort” aspect of Vail healthy, and as a high priority, in order to have a viable Vail Community.

This is best achieved through cooperative, supportive, non-combative private sector and governmental relationships enacted by the most capable, experienced and unselfish governmental representatives that we can find to assume these daunting and rather personally unrewarding public responsibilities.

And I find no fault with Vail Resorts’ practice of targeting separately identifiable market segments with tiered pricing and other incentives. Sure, such marketing serves Vail Resort’s interests, but it helps our community also. I’m thankful to have and to enjoy the tremendous amenities on Vail Mountain, and I desperately want them to remain viable. This requires a fiscally viable Vail Resorts Inc.

Further, Mr. Long’s other thoughtful and well-founded views, and my own beliefs, contrast sharply with the divisive diatribes expressed by Kaye Ferry, whom I wish would offer more practical solutions as opposed to seemingly being so dedicated to just complaining, whining and otherwise alleging shallow, unsubstantiated accusations and inflammatory insinuations against public figures.

“Tell Vail Resorts to stick it S,” as Ferry has urged her readers to do, is not going to further the cooperation and mutually beneficial relationship that is vitally needed to improve Vail’s overall stature as both a resort and a community.

As a long-term Vail resident, and as a strong supporter of Vail as both a resort and a community, I am glad that we have people with successful, long-term business experience, maturity and high integrity such as Rod Slifer willing to serve on our Town Council. I have seen no materially substantiated reason to question Mr. Slifer’s proper balancing of priorities between Vail resorts and the town. To the contrary, I believe his familiarity with Vail Resorts’ priorities can enhance his ability to effectively represent the town’s interests as compared to others with less seniority, experience and breadth of insight.

Or by making general insinuations, or otherwise making mountains out of molehills, is Ferry using a sophomoric column-writer’s tactic to generate controversy in hopes it will increase her column’s readership?

If so, I’m not influenced, and I wonder why the Vail Daily should stoop so low.

All of us should first look inward as we strive to sustain and improve this unique and fabulous place to live and play that we call Vail.

Bob Louthan

Vail

We’d take vote back

I would like to comment on the “Quick Takes” about the convention center in the April 15 Vail Daily. The parking problem is of concern and illustrates that the election was premature before all the facts were on the table.

Yes, the voters have spoken, but before all the facts were known. My wife and I both voted for it, but had we known what we know now, we would not have done so.

It would have been nice if there were a clear-cut understanding between the town and VR about the parking issue (the town sure dropped the ball on this issue). But there was much more information needed before the voters could make an informed decision. Why did it come out after the vote that Keystone loses a million dollars a year and had to raise their taxes to cover it? The CSL marketing study should have been widely circulated for all to see, not just the proponents. I have been able to study the report and do not think it supports a $46 million convention center.

The average corporate attendance is 100, with 75 hotel rooms required. Four hotels in Vail can handle this with more in the planning stage, so we don’t need a convention center for this market. If these hotels were filled with this business, the convention center wouldn’t help because there are no other hotels within walking distance of the center.

The report states that there are only six hotels in the Vail Valley with over a 100 rooms. The second-largest hotel is in Beaver Creek and the fifth -argest is in Avon. Are we spending $46 million to help fill these hotels which are 15 or more miles away and don’t pay Vail sales tax?

The report states that event planners will only use one or two properties to assemble room blocks and the hotels must be within easy walking distance of the center. Between 1999 and 2005, it is reported that 137 events were lost because of lack of space. They would include from 560 to 970 attendees. By stretching the definition of “walking distance,” there are only a total of 397 rooms available in two hotels for the Holy Cross site (Vail Cascade Resort is not within walking distance) and 525 rooms for the Hub site in three hotels. None would be next to the center and there are not enough rooms available at a convenient distance.

Twenty percent of lost business was national associations, which had 1,000 to 5,000 delegates. Where are they going to stay – particularly in no more than two hotels and in walking distance? It is this size convention that the center is being built for.

The report covers a number of different convention types. In each type, reasons were given as to why planners had not considered Vail, including: “Vail too expensive to get to S” “Only have meetings near branches S” “Major airports too far away S” “Only hold meetings near major financial markets.”

The report goes on to say “it will be difficult to market against these concerns, and we would have to market the positive aspects.” Are we taking a big chance that we could do this? Twenty-four percent of the corporate events need exhibit space. It would be very expensive to bring exhibits up to Vail. The report states that the corporate demand is spread throughout the year, meaning we will not be able to accommodate them in our high season periods unless we give up on some of our tourist business.

Other groups are covered in this report with similar concerns. They are summarized below:

1. We do not have enough convention-quality rooms available for large groups. Of the 16 hotels listed, five are not in Vail, and four are not suited for convention business. Why were they included?

2. We do not have a headquarters hotel next to the convention center.

3. We do not need a $46 million facility for small groups that could be accommodated in existing hotels with meeting space (with more coming on the market).

4. Negative aspects expressed by meeting planners will be hard to overcome.

5. Keystone has been in the larger convention business for a long time. Now that they have enlarged the center, they are losing $1 million a year. What do we have going for us that would make us any more profitable?

6. The report states that the center will lose $980,000 in the first five years, and then level off to a loss of $71,000 a year. This is assuming that it is “successful.”

I would suggest that the “powers that be” read the report without any preconceived ideas. I think they will find in the report too much cautionary information making spending $46 million on a convention center very risky, and I am convinced that if this were brought to a vote again, with adequate discussion of the pros and cons, it would be defeated.

Bob Fritch

Vail

Great time

We had a wonderful celebration of reading on the evening of April 17 at Eagle Valley Elementary School. Students and their families enjoyed guest readers, a parent presentation, refreshments and books. Author and storyteller Joe Hayes spoke to parents about “Home-grown Storytelling” and told stories to all of those in attendance.

We would especially like to thank the EVE PTO who financially sponsored this event; parents who brought their children to the celebration; and our community readers. Each student in attendance received a book and refreshments.

Thanks to Diana Wilson and Sarah Giovagnoli for organinzing the refreshments and Marcia Hymes for helping with book sales.

The following community members took time out of their busy schedules to read to our students: Sarah Giovagnoli, Pam Boyd, Agnes Harakal, Patty Gibbons, Melanie Wilson, Joy Ortiz, Carrie Tedstrom, John McMain, Denny Simonton, Julie Salaz, Ed Dent, Roxie Deene, Ruth Lenz, Casey Stanish, Steve Smith, Holly Simonton, Dee Dee Emmer, Jerry Santoro, Ted James and Robyn Bryant.

Diane Chambers, reading teacher, Eagle Valley Elementary School; Melissa Caudill, media specialist, Eagle Valley Elementary School; Sharon Minke, eading Teacher, Eagle Valley Elementary School


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