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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

Imagine a Vail Think Tank In light of concerns about falling tax revenue, I have a modest proposal for the Town of Vail Council. It could be a lucrative source of funds and further consolidate the place of Vail among the ranks of the “world class.”

Why not capitalize on Vail’s name recognition and establish the Vail Town Council Think Tank, a RAND Corporation of the Rockies?

As fee-earning consultants, the Vail Town Council Think Tank would debate and advise on thorny issues facing more cerebrally-challenged municipalities. In the process, consulting dollar flow would turn big-time positive, and the Town of Vail would gain unlimited access to ill-considered ideas.

Initial consulting would focus on areas of proven expertise:

– Legislative redundancy.

– Counter-cyclical economics.

– Bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you theory.

Legislative redundancy

A specialty of the council. Why settle for one law when you can have two? Expertise in this area is demonstrated by current contemplation of engine brake noise legislation. Never mind that the topic is already subject to state law, involves some serious safety issues, and the real problem is failure to enforce existing regulatons.

Drafting of model legislation and consideration of additional burdens upon the organs of law enforcement should provide great opportunities for time consumption (read consulting fee generation.)

Councilwoman Donovan’s common-sense approach to this issue need not be viewed as a disqualification of the think tank, but evidence of a comprehensive analytical approach.

Countercyclical economics

The council’s willingness to challenge conventional economic wisdom is exemplified by the proposal to introduce snowmelt for some of the town’s pedestrian areas. At a time of environmental concern, when other municipalities charge a penalty for installation of minor snowmelt systems on private driveways, Vail Council has demonstrated its willingness to think way outside the box. The ability to overlook central issues: the price tag, the apparent lack of skier demand for snow-free streets (isn’t snow the reason they’re here), where all those BTUs are coming from, how to prevent damage to the system by emergency vehicles) is ample proof of a rosy future for the think tank.

A key element of success in this area is an ability to overlook the obvious.

Movement through the streets of Vail isn’t half as challenging to gear-burdened skiers as negotiation of exterior stairways at the parking garages and elsewhere. Witness the appeal of escalators at Beaver Creek, crowded with relieved skiers, while the adjacent stairs are deserted. Broken and missing light fixtures increase the public stairway challenge. In other theme parks, comparable maintenance failures would cause in-house lawyers to dive for cover, screaming “lawsuit!” Custodial heads would roll. In this theme park, it’s a cue to move on to the Next Big Thing.

Bite the hand

that feeds you

Debate over Front Range skiers provides the ultimate demonstration of the mental potential available within the think tank.

Front Range skiers brave 90 miles of unpredictable I-70 road conditions, two mountain passes, ignore the attraction of intervening ski areas, and pay decent money to ski at a resort that can’t decide if they are welcome or not. In the process they provide the town and mountain with most of its vitality, generate employment, complete with multiplier effect and the odd bonus.

Notoriously, they fail to buy Rolex watches, patronize T-shirt shops, unlike any self-respecting destination visitor. Instead, they clog the town’s arteries while participating in the “fun for all ages, no purchase necessary, will they allow parking on the Frontage Road this weekend” game of chance.

In real European ski villages, so often touted as the model for Vail, these skiers would be embraced with open arms. The village would swiftly figure the added cost of extra traffic control, and plowing to make space for the overflow. Then they’d erect parking token dispensers at strategic locations to ensure that the community derived some financial benefit from the influx. Maybe even run a shuttle. But a real European ski village is probably more concerned with its reputation for hospitality than visual tidiness. What else can you expect from people who tolerate parking on sidewalks? The possiblities for the think tank are endless. Who knows? We might even witness consideration of “living wage” legislation, if only on behalf of a remote client like Jackson Hole.

Andrew Catford

Avon


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