Meeting date set for broad look at Vail conference center |

Meeting date set for broad look at Vail conference center

Scott N. Miller

VAIL – Turn the calendar one page, and put a big mark on May 3.That’s the day the Vail Town Council is expected to take a soup-to-nuts look at financial and other information about a possible conference center in town.Between now and then, the town’s two building approval boards – the Planning and Environmental Commission and the Design Review Board – will look at preliminary plans for the center. Those worksessions are designed to give town planners an idea what those boards might add, or take away from, the design that could affect construction estimates.”May 3 starts the public process for approval or denial,” said Councilwoman Diana Donovan. “No one should think there’s been any vote to approve this.”All that’s happened so far, Donovan said, is that the council has told the town’s conference center advisory committee to keep moving with its work. That group has spent two years on studies, preliminary designs and construction and operation estimates. The town council will look at all of that information before voting on whether to issue bonds to pay for the conference center.Opposition to the center took another turn this week when a committee submitted paperwork to the town to launch a petition drive. If successful, the end result would be a ballot question asking voters to repeal the lodging tax passed in 2002 to pay for the center.When voters approved funding for a center, the town council then had to pull together enough information to decide whether it could be built and operated with the money available.Town Councilman Kent Logan, who also sits on the advisory committee, said that’s backwards from the way such projects usually work.”Normally, you’d gather the information, then go to a vote,” Logan said. “But the council didn’t set this in motion.”Vail resident Paul Rondeau, a regular at meetings with conference center updates on the agenda, told the council that it, and the advisory committee, hadn’t yet heard enough from the public to make a good decision.”You haven’t been humble,” Rondeau said. “You haven’t asked for help.”The time for that is coming, Logan said. “There will be ample opportunity for input,” he said. “In May, we’ll debate it, and thoroughly, and there will be complete transparency.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or Daily, Vail Colorado

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