New Vail council faces ‘tough decisions’ |

New Vail council faces ‘tough decisions’

Lauren Glendenning
Vail CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – From Ever Vail to Timber Ridge to prioritizing Vail’s capital projects – the life of future Vail, Colorado, Town Council members won’t be easy.

Town Manager Stan Zemler told Vail, Colorado, Town Council candidates Tuesday there will be tough decisions as early as the first meeting after the Nov. 3 election. There are four seats open in the election, the majority of the council, with nine candidates running for the open seats.

Eight of the nine candidates were at the meeting – incubent Kim Newbury was home with a sick child and could not make it.

Candidates didn’t ask many questions, but they did listen closely to Zemler’s approximately hourlong presentation on the state of the town. It was a crash course in the who’s who in Vail and what issues the town faces over the next five years.

The new council needs a new vision, Zemler said, because Vail, Colorado, like the rest of the country, is changing.

“Whether it’s updating master plans or investing more money into marketing and special events, the table has been very nicely set in the town of Vail the last five to six years, so what are we going to do with that?” Zemler said.

The town’s redevelopment renaissance was intended to bring Vail up to the standard it holds for itself as being the premier mountain resort community, Zemler said. And because the town expects the next two to three years to remain flat in terms of revenue, Zemler said there are plenty of other adjustments that need to be made to reflect that.

“We’re having these very hard conversations right now (with town department heads),” Zemler said. “In terms of recognizing that our challenge is to maintain this service environment that Vail takes great pride in. (The town) will have to make some hard decisions in the next six months – we can’t sustain the path we’re on today in the near term.”

Council members and candidates have been talking about prioritizing capital projects – something Zemler said will be one of the new council’s first major tasks. Incumbents Kim Newbury, Kevin Foley and Mark Gordon have been talking about capital projects throughout the 2010 budget process, which is set for its final approval Oct. 20. The incumbents have all said the town needs to prioritize projects soon.

Candidates Ludwig Kurz – a former Vail mayor – and Vail native Buddy Lazier have said the town needs to focus on maintaining services for its guests since the town’s economy is likely going to rely more on tourism than real estate. Kurz said it’s likely the town would need to continue to defer capital projects to maintain a balanced budget.

The amount of redevelopment the next council will face will be significantly less, but there will still be major redevelopment projects such as Ever Vail and potentially the Lionshead parking structure, Zemler said.

The new Town Council also will inherit ongoing town problems, such as what to propose to voters for the $9.3 million conference-center fund and parking, a never-ending battle in the town.

The town has been under pressure from the Colorado Department of Transportation about parking along the frontage road – something that won’t go away until new parking is built.

Ford Park and its future are up for debate in the beginning of the new council, too. The council will have to work on the park’s new master plan and will need to answer what Zemler called “the lingering question.”

“What’s the feasibility of whether parking can happen in Ford Park? We’re not quite there yet (in town discussions on the subject),” Zemler said.

The new Town Council would have a retreat with town staff in early December to bring everyone up to speed, Zemler said.

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