Life in la-la land |

Life in la-la land

Tamara Miller
Vail CO, Colorado

I love living in Eagle County, where the sun shines, the snow is deep and mountain towns with $40 million budgets are broke.

Vail has less than 5,000 residents, more money than towns four times its size, yet may have to tax construction to pay for all the road improvements, staff and amenities the town “needs.”

My hometown of Hutchinson, Kan. needs more jobs because the town is becoming gentrified and young people don’t want to move there. Vail needs fancier sidewalks and street lights because the current ones clash with all the shiny, new condo buildings going up.

But hey, that’s why we all moved here, right? To get away from real-world problems like flat real-estate markets, obesity and unheated driveways.

These are the things we need to worry about: when a Minturn resident has to wait 30 seconds to back out onto Highway 24 because of “traffic.”

Eagle County is a beautiful, special place, and a lot of that is because it isn’t full of strip malls or industrial plants. But do you ever stop to think how lucky we are? That our community is so seemingly devoid of problems that the things that get the public riled up are road construction, big boxes and roundabouts?

The truth, of course, is we do have problems. We have kids who need help, parents who don’t know what they’re doing. We have people who are abused and are abusing, and we have families that struggle to make ends meet.

We have a lot of illegal immigrants living in our county and regardless of how you feel about that issue, there are plenty of problems associated with that.

It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend more time on these problems, even if some of them aren’t that visible. I know some local charities have a hard time raising money for the poor because the outside world can’t believe we aren’t all fur-coated millionaires here.

Still, none of those things top the list of local residents’ concerns. Surveys done by the Town of Vail and Eagle County show what most people are worried about: the price of housing, the health of the environment, the pressures of development. Those are completely legitimate concerns that local leaders justifiably spend hours and thousands of dollars trying to resolve.

For the most part, though, none of those are life-and-death issues. If nothing more is done about affordable housing, people will move away. Sure, the wealthy won’t be able to get all the housekeepers and landscapers they need, and going to a local restaurant may become a less enjoyable experience if there’s no one to bring you your food. But no one is going to die because of this. Businesses may have to close, but then, businesses have to close everyday.

Turning the valley into a big strip mall may look ugly, and it may make some tourists stay away. If I-70 through Vail gets a whole lot louder, it could drive residents there to go insane. But noise and blocked views won’t kill you.

The next time you read that some self-righteous politician thinks we should lower the I-70, take a minute and think about all the things you could get angry about ” the war in Iraq, kids with rotting teeth, good American citzens who can’t get the health care they need ” and sign that recall petition, anyway.

Because this is Vail, man. We’ve got our own problems.

Opinion/Projects Editor Tamara Miller can be reached at 748-2936, or

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