Nailing Jello to the wall
When they said they were starting on April 19, they really meant it. I sashayed in a week ago Monday to the official ground breaking ceremony for the “Future is Now,” and I was dumfounded by the progress that had been made by noon.
With all of the town electeds and town staff in attendance, the official dirt was turned that signified the beginning of a new era in Vail. As flash bulbs popped, the mayor announced the beginning of the biggest construction boom since Vail began.
Of course, by now, everyone is aware of the streetscape project intended to refurbish utility lines and water pipes that have been slowly disintegrating since they were first laid. It is also to set the groundwork for the much-debated notion of heated streets.
This heated-street idea seems to be primarily generated by town staff that finds the cost, noise and staffing of those early morning plows to be troublesome at best. And of course, a few lodging properties are tired of the complaints waged at them by guests who are intent on some early morning shut eye.
But when a survey was taken of the business community, very little support was given to the idea of dry streets in a ski resort. Nor did it win at the discussions on the economy last winter – in fact, there it lost 28-3.
One of the most pointed comments referring to the analysis that we are now competing with the cruise lines – an idea that is driven by the employment background of the resort company’s CEO – was that palm trees would be the next addition to Seibert Circle, an addition that quite frankly couldn’t possibly make that area any worse.
But the reality is that those heated pipes will be fired up regardless of popular opinion, but what’s new? Whoever said that elected officials had any responsibility to the opinions of those that elected them?
Then we have some of the private development plans. There’s the Tivoli, Swiss House, hopefully the Four Seasons and Vail Village Inn, Crossroads, a ton of small projects, Lionshead, the Front Door and P3&J.
In case you don’t know, P3&J is the lot across from the Christiania. It’s actually now known, after 40 years, as simply P3 as a result of some consolidated zoning. It is being developed by VRI as underground parking, with some loading and delivery and a park on top. The parking will include 100-plus private, for-sale spots. If you’re interested, you’d better hurry, because at $100,000 per space, they’re going quickly.
But actually, for the time being at least, it’s on hold as the TOV and VRI play politics. The TOV would like some assurance that VRI is indeed going to move along with the Front Door before they approve all of the smaller projects and, of course, VRI doesn’t want to officially commit to anything.
Which brings us to the Front Door. It has been on hold until VRI completes its land exchange in Avon. The Forest Service has been unwilling to approve the swap at the Vista Bahn until the one downvalley is settled.
The resort company submitted their plans for the Avon project, but were turned down by the Avon Planning Commission last week. So now what? There’s a lot of speculation, with some saying that VRI is off the hook now that their plans were not approved.
As usual, things get curiouser and curiouser whenever VRI gets pushed to the wall. Those are guys that NEVER want to make a firm commitment before they’re ready. It’s where we finally got to with the conference center site and parking. What’s that saying about nailing Jello to the wall? You’ve got the picture. Stay tuned.
VRD ELECTION: It’s hard to figure why so few threw their hats into the ring for this election. Is it because it’s a no-win situation? I remember when there were six or seven candidates for these elections. This year there are three for two seats.
And then there’s the ballot question. I said in a previous column that of the three options for tax increases that the VRD wrestled with, this is the weakest and would have been my last choice.
But having said that, the reality is that if you think recreation is a necessary and integral party of this community and if you think recreation provides vital amenities for our guests, you have to vote “yes” for this very nominal tax increase.
Never mind assessing how the VRD got into this mess – that’s over. Now we need to make it possible for them to move forward with providing recreational products that appeal to us as a community and to our visitors.
Unless they get some financial relief, all of their cash flow will go toward paying the Dobson debt and there will be nothing left to use for maintenance and improvement of existing facilities. Like it or not, a vote for this tax increase is a small price to pay for the results it will produce. The lesson to be learned here, however, it to pay attention in the future to what elected officials are doing.
WHAT DID THEY SAY? It seems impossible that this topic is coming up again. After years of complaining, the TOV installed a new sound system that was theoretically intended to solve the problem of not being able to hear in the TC chambers. But the system can’t be expected to work if no one uses it. Flo Steinberg needs to get back in there and re-start her campaign. And I know a lot of people that will help her. I’ll say it again, those are public meetings and the public has a right to hear what’s going on.
Do your part: call them and write them.
To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail email@example.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-columnists or search:ferry.
Kaye Ferry, an observer of Vail government, writes a weekly column for the Daily.