Letters to the editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the editor

Tom Backhus

As with other business people in the community, I am writing in support of the Vail conference center. Although my business is not located in the town of Vail, my heart is! Having lived in the valley for 24 years, and operating the 4 Eagle Ranch for 15, I wish to share my perspective on the center.It seems to me that the debate is boiling down to the “haves” vs. the “have nots.” Those who have been here for a long time and have what they want don’t really want more people in town. It’s a form of NIMBYism, which certainly has a reality in these development debates. I must say that I am disappointed with my friends and acquaintances who oppose the center. The argument used publicly to oppose the center is the financial burden of a failed center, therefore burdening the taxpayers of Vail.The arguments I’ve heard privately from some of these people are:– We are a ski town, not a conference town.– We’ve always had off-seasons and that’s just the reality of being here.Well, hellooooooooooo. Let’s look at these and other points of view.Only a ski town? They won’t to come? In reality, we are much more than a ski town. The reasons most of us live and stay here are the same reasons the tourists, and yes, conference organizers and attendees, want to come. Spectacular natural beauty, an abundance of cultural and athletic activities in which to participate, great weather (usually) with no humidity, excellent restaurants, interesting people and top notch medical care. Over the years of operating the 4 Eagle as an entertainment venue for both locals and tourists, we have met and serviced numerous meeting planners and their conference attendees. The message is always the same, they love the experience, the marketplace, and look forward to their return. They only wish we had a facility to better serve their larger groups.The argument that new developments in town will adequately provide the space we need is not accurate. It will not satisfy the demand that the conference center will fulfill.The argument that the conferences won’t come in the spring, summer and fall? Again, wrong! That’s when many of them want to come and will come.The argument that convention centers fail around the country? Well, convention centers in Des Moines and Pittsburgh and Tulsa and Little Rock and (fill in the blank) may fail. But that’s not our market, and not our product. We are a midsized conference center in a very desirable location.The argument that the financial projections are “wildly optimistic?” Where did that come from? I trust that professionals, a whole lot more intelligent than I, do not agree with that exaggeration.The argument that governments should not be entering the conference business? One of the responsibilities of government is to act as an economic stimulator, to create the opportunity for its community and its citizens to realize economic stability. For most business owners and their employees, the off-seasons are financially difficult. Everyone (well, most everyone) everywhere in the country is looking to generate economic activity for their community, and local government is at the central core of that effort.Again, I must say that I am so disappointed in the negative, short-sightedness of those townspeople opposed to this center. Yes, we have one of the best overall ski experiences in the world. But we also have so much more to offer – year-round – to the people who make up that world.Tom BackhusNot just VailWhy shouldn’t we have a REGIONAL conference center?Avon, Beaver Creek, Confluence Park, Edwards and at least one county commissioner are licking their chops hoping to get some spin-off income from Vail’s conference center. At present Vail pays 22 percent of Eagle County’s tax income which is bound to increase with all the new construction.Why not set up a conference center district from Wolcott going east so that those that get the benefits accept their fair share of taxes and risks?Vote NO on the conference center Tuesday, Nov. 8.Tom and Flo Steinberg Vail needs centerThe proposed Vail conference center is precisely the sort of economically progressive notion our valley needs in order to bridge the gap between being a seasonal resort town and a viable year round place to live, work and visit. The conference center will provide a reason for merchants, business people, and in turn, customers, to visit the valley in what has traditionally been the off season. The center will, in fact, further most merchants’ efforts (or dreams) to eliminate an off-season altogether, as corporate retreats and/or meetings happen year-round. The conference center will bring much needed exposure to Vail as more than just a ski town, and with such exposure will come a newfound identity as a realistic place to live, raise families and engage in year-round commerce. The conference center is a good idea for Vail. As we recently experienced, a fear of change is part and parcel (no pun) a fear of progress.M. Jordan DenningMoffet for councilAt a time when Vail is focused on change, it is comforting to know that some things remain the same like Greg Moffet’s dedication and unwavering commitment to serve the Town of Vail.As a marketing professional, Greg understands the importance of promoting Vail and his voting history demonstrates this dedication. He presently serves on numerous advisory boards for local businesses, he continues to be involved in youth sports, he sponsors town activities, and he worked to secure the Children’s Garden in its new location. Greg is always willing to listen and offer suggestions.Greg’s mind is constantly working to find creative solutions to difficult problems. Not only does he generate ideas, he is capable of implementation. Greg demonstrates his dedication to the community through his actions. He clearly has a firm grasp of the many complicated issues at hand and works toward a positive solution. His legal education and previous experience in commercial real estate gives him the background to provide the strong leadership needed to guide us through the many decisions confronting Vail today.Ultimately, however, it is Greg’s enthusiasm as a vibrant contributing member of our community that makes you want to support him. Reward Greg’s positive “can do” attitude by re-electing him to Vail’s Town Council. Greg Moffet believes in Vail and the many opportunities that lie ahead.Nancy SweeneyCommittee shortcomingsWhether the Vail conference center passes or fails, I feel we are left with a conference center decision process less than stellar. Perhaps it’s typical/inherent of how municipal government and its appointed committees perform – in spite of the best intentions and hard work. Let me narrow this statement to my view of 10 conference center committee shortcomings. Keep in mind asking for information should not imply being for or against anything:– Not producing a sensitivity analysis on hotel bookings between the total check-out tax of 9.9 percent vs. 13.4 percent. In other words, how price sensitive are guests of ALL lodging facilities by addition of the 3.5 percent for the total of lodging and the extra 0.5 percent sales tax?– Questionable in-depth evaluation of Vail’s competition – both in cities and resorts. This evaluation should have included BOTH statistical data and directly comparable, anecdotal stories.– Lack of a hardball question: Are worst case AND best case scenarios too optimistic or pessimistic?– Inadequate characterization of IMPLICATIONS to consider for conference organizers when shoulder seasons are without air service into Eagle. This is considering that over 50 percent of our ski season visitors arrive by airplane, a potential for snow on the roads in both shoulder seasons, coupled with a national push for driving conservation. — Failure to have respected independent lawyers and financial experts clearly answer the questions of risk to the town – folks are STILL debating what should have been a factual determination.– Lack of a proactive attempt to link the conference center to COMMUNITY-PROUD considerations. Requests for design to include more capability for performing/visual arts were ignored, coupled with not even highlighting the potential as the design now stands.– Failure to seriously explore cost/risk SHARING between the town and various local/national organizations.– Not answering the question: What has changed since 2002 – highlighting BOTH positive and negative considerations? It’s as if nothing has changed except the construction costs. — Not answering the question: What are the alternative OPPORTUNITY uses for the money and land? This is one of the most frequently asked questions during deliberations within in the private sector.– Lastly, failure to distribute to the electorate a final, concise report. The only thing sent out was a mailing containing biased, pro/con statements submitted by interested citizens – leaving the typical voter with no information from the committee itself.These alleged shortcomings would never have occurred in the private sector where the committee would probably have been a task force with clear marching orders. In our government appointed committee, the solution could have been the hiring of a strong, independent mediator to run the whole thing – hence reducing some of the politics/ideology and being more factual, coupled with reducing the committee’s invested and elapsed timeWhether mitigating any or all of the listed shortcomings will or would affect the ballot outcome is an open question. But I do hope the legacy of the process is that we can do better, even with some of the handcuffing inherent in municipal government. In any case, vote if you haven’t already and let’s pull together regardless of the outcome. Paul RondeauVail For GordonI’m writing this letter to show my support for Mark Gordon for Vail Town Council. I have known Mark both personally and professionally for over three years. He is incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic about Vail. In my opinion he is just what this town needs.Vail needs a change for the better. We need someone on council who will listen to our opinions, someone who cares enough to take the time to explain the current issues. What really impresses me is that Mark always explains both sides of the issue. It is obvious that he isn’t an ideologue just pushing an agenda. He does his homework.He has always struck me as a creative thinker, as well as someone who will be able to offer meaningful strategies to deal with our problems. We have spoken at length about the viability of a rec center in Vail, and he has convinced me that now is the time to start the groundwork to get our rec center.I will feel very confident about Vail’s future success if Mark is elected. Please join me and many others who live and work in Vail in supporting Mark Gordon for Town Council.Robin SeymourFor Vail today Good morning, this year’s Vail Town Council election race gives those of us who are fortunate enough to still reside, pay taxes and vote in Vail some clear-cut options. In my heart, I believe it’s time to elect representatives with a proactive approach to taking a clear-eyed look at the Vail of TODAY, and crafting an agenda that will move Vail forward as a diverse, multi-generational community supporting America’s finest year-round recreational attraction. We’ve spent enough time playing “bring me your ideas and we’ll tinker with them.” Let’s elect some leaders to craft an agenda and represent everyone’s interests as more than just a reactive group of watchdogs.I believe that Greg Moffet, Robert Aiken, Mark Gordon and Kristy Slack present us with that kind of opportunity. While I haven’t always agreed with Greg’s stance on issues, or the reasoning behind his decisions, he has consistently been willing to gather input from all types of citizens, weigh the options and make a decision that is in the long-term best interest of his home community. Robert’s aggressive approach to solving the problems inherent in managing a small business in our “business unfriendly” seasonal economy, and his can-do”attitude toward problem-solving lead me to believe he would make a wonderful, collaborative leader on the council. And Mark has emerged as an articulate, thoughtful leader in that often overlooked young family constituency that represents the future of Vail as a community, a viable place to live your dreams, and not just as a theme park. Kristy has been a co-worker and friend since she moved to Vail, and her curiosity, willingness to question the status quo and extraordinary maturity and work ethic deserve to be recognized.Having spent more than my fair share of time observing Vail’s governance process over the past 20 years, my sensitivity to the complexity of serving as a representative of the best interests of EVERYONE’S future is keen. I believe it is tragic and will hamper our future development as one of America’s wonderful places to live if we continue to elect leaders who only reflect the thinking of a narrow slice of our populace, and further polarize our already struggling community.Let’s elect some leaders who will actually advance our community, not just “protect” us from ourselves.Frank W. JohnsonGordon for councilI would like to take this opportunity to endorse Mark Gordon for the Vail town council.I have come to know Mark over the past two years as he has campaigned for the council and as we have had a chance to talk during many council meetings. Mark has demonstrated an interest in making Vail a community in which both the tourist and the local are welcome. He also has an ability to work with people of differing views, remaining open to others’ ideas.I believe that Mark would make a positive addition to the Vail Town Council.Bill JewittVail Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism