Moving beyond Crossroads
I have been thinking about the Crossroads project a lot lately. I almost always come away from those thinking sessions with a profound sense of disappointment. I am not disappointed with the voters soundly approving the project. An unemotional look at the facts surrounding the project pushed the Vail Daily and pushed me to strongly support the project. Crossroads desperately needs to be redeveloped, and this project has a high probability of becoming a good community asset.I am not disappointed that the project was forced to jump through more hoops than almost any other project in Vail’s history. The project is an integral part of Vail’s greater rebirth, and it was important to get it right. The project approved by the voters is vastly better than the initial proposal presented to the town.I am not disappointed that the project has been delayed for a couple of years. The project represents a significant change to the character of the Crossroads area. It was important to allow the public input process and negotiation process ample time to ensure that all parties could have their say.I am not disappointed that the project was forced to survive a referendum process. Democracy is often a messy process. The referendum procedures are designed to ensure that voters have recourse when they feel their elected representative may not be making a particular decision in an appropriate manner. The fact that the vote was lopsided in favor of the project does not change this value. I am not disappointed that the election cost the Town $30,000-$40,000. This is part of the process we call democracy. It is a small price to pay to ensure that there are adequate checks and balances in our system of government.I am very disappointed by the way that some members of both sides in the decision process conducted themselves before the vote. I am even more disappointed that many of these people on both sides of the debate have not accepted the overwhelming nature of the vote and continue to sling labels, lies, insult and innuendo. These people are acting in a manner that deepens the divisions in the town rather than helping the healing process to begin. At best, the folks who engage in the mud-slinging activities fail to recognize that the issue was about a building and the direction of the town. It wasn’t, or more correctly should not have been, about the character of the individuals involved in the debate. At worst, this type of activity makes one question the integrity of the person slinging the mud. If they have hard facts, the conversation should be focused toward those facts rather than sliding off into the mire of innuendo. People who stoop to the level of character assassination rather than sticking to the real issues of the buildings size and character say much more about themselves than they can ever say about the person whose character they are attacking. Both sides were and are guilty of this egregious behavior. The label “Old Guard” is both insulting and inaccurate. There are folks new to the community who voted against the development, just as there are folks who have lived here for decades who voted for the project. Our community owes a large debt to the people who have built Vail over the years. We may have differences in opinion over the direction of development in the town, but this does not mean that this debt of gratitude and respect is not still due. It is equally inappropriate to put the “newcomer” or “temporary” label on people who have moved to Vail in the past decade or even in the past year. The opinions of these people are just as valid as those of the folks who built the town. These labels do not help the discussion. Both sides were and are also guilty of this egregious behavior. It is time for us all to get past this childish level of discourse. The voters have made a clear decision. We need to respect the decision and get on with the project. More importantly we need to get over the name calling and come together again as a community. One of the best legacies the long-term residents of Vail have given us is that our history shows we can disagree vehemently and then come together as friends. Even though the Crossroads battle was long and often ugly, we need to extend that legacy to this issue and to the generations of new residents. After all, the Crossroads debate was about a building and a direction for the town. It really wasn’t about the character of the people involved. I choose to believe that the great majority of us are good people and that while we may disagree on both large and small issues, we all have the best interests of the town in our hearts. I expect, and sincerely hope, that I am correct.Steve Pope of Edwards is the general manager of Colorado Mountain News Media, the division of Swift Communications that includes the Vail Daily and a dozen other Colorado newspapers. Vail, Colorado
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