Local trying to get a smooth village path | VailDaily.com

Local trying to get a smooth village path

Scott N. Miller
Bret Hartman/Vail DailySarah Will wants the cobblestone streets on Bridge Street in Vail to have a smooth path down the middle to make them more accessible to strollers, wheelchairs, walkers and even women in heels.

VAIL – The new cobblestones on Bridge Street look nice, but they’re hard on people who have a hard time getting around.The stones – put in last year as part of the Vail Village street improvement project – bounce babies in strollers, and rattle the teeth of people in wheelchairs. That’s where Sarah Will comes in.Will, who was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame last year, has a wall full of trophies and ribbons from her days as a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. These days, Will has a different focus: She wants to make her adopted home town accessible to as many people as possible. To do that, Will is telling anyone who will listen that the new cobblestone streets in Vail Village need a smooth path down the center, so people in wheelchairs, walkers, or even stiletto heels, can make their way around town.Will and others have for months been saying the cobblestones are bad for them, and, by extension, bad for business in Vail. Feeling she was getting a runaround from town officials, Will finally took her case, literally, to the streets.Over the Fourth of July weekend, Will rolled around Vail with a petition asking the town council to put a smooth path through the village. Over parts of just a couple of days nearly 300 people signed.”I watched people pushing baby strollers and women in heels struggling, and asked them to support me,” Will said. “Most of them did.”From Will’s perspective, making Vail accessible to people with disabilities is just good business.

A recent disabled ski team fund-raiser brought nearly 1,000 people to town, most of whom were able-bodied and accompanying team members. Will said those people spent an average of $600 each over the course of a weekend, not counting meals.”They brought in nearly $1 million in revenue to the town in a weekend,” Will said. Perhaps as important, Will said, is Vail’s history. The ski resort and town were founded by World War II veterans, she said. So was disabled skiing. The resort’s recent Veterans Ski Weekends has continued that tradition.”There was a marine named Casey Owens who lost both legs in the war,” Will said. “Vail was the first place he came after the hospital. He and a lot of the veterans didn’t know what the possibilities for them were until they came here.”Another factor is simply the graying of Vail and its visitors.”It’s a different world today than it was 20 years ago,” said Dick Hauserman, one of Vail’s founders. “It’s amazing the number of people using some sort of prop to get around these days.”Hauserman, who still golfs, but acknowledges he doesn’t get around as well as he used to, said he supports Will’s efforts.”Anything they can do to help should at least get consideration,” he said.Help does seem to be on the way. Vail Public Works Director Greg Hall said the decision’s been made to expand the smooth path in Vail Village from 24 inches to 36 inches. And, he said, the town and the streetscape project contractors should have some samples of paving stones in the next few weeks.

Those stones will have to pass muster with a town committee so they fit in with the current design. When the new paving stones are picked, they’ll go the length of Bridge Street, and along Gore Creek Drive. The ones on lower Bridge Street are the only ones that will need to be replaced.But, Hall said, “The final decision on changing materials hasn’t been made yet.”Which is why Will is still a bit wary.”It seems like we’re halfway there,” she said. “I don’t have full confidence in this, so the battle continues.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.===========Beveled, or on the level?

The problem with the cobblestones in Vail Village is the fact they aren’t square. The edges of the stones on Bridge Street kind of fall away from the straight edges. That looks nice, but for people rolling across, it creates a teeth-chattering ride.The answer is paving stones with flat edges. That allows a smoother ride for baby strollers or people in wheelchairs. The gaps between the stones are also less likely to catch canes or walkers.Vail Resorts Development Company is creating a path with level stones at its Vail Square project in Lionshead.=======================Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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