New year’s white lining
Any time the New Year begins with around a foot of fresh snow on the mountains is auspicious.
Just two years past the specter of a mostly underage crowd of revelers embarrassing the town with a midnight trampling, perhaps an even bigger crowd of adults – paying customers – passed the night in relative peace. See, Vail doesn’t have to play mecca to drunken juveniles on New Year’s and the Fourth of July to get by. The controversial police presence has scaled back by fully half, now that the message seems to have carried. Give the town leadership some real credit for ending this bit of misbehavior.
Everything we hear suggests the “destination” visitors – those folks from out of state and even country who stay longer and spend more – are back in greater numbers. Not bad, considering the national economy hasn’t quite been soaring, and war talk continues to bellow.
Snow is the great elixer, true, but you might be interested to know that this latest little dump only brought Vail Mountain up to average for this time of year, at least according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service readings.
Water authorities in the Vail Valley remain well justified in biting their nails over the snowpack and what it portends for drought next summer.
Likewise, United Airlines retreating from payments to Eagle County for that new terminal will have the county’s leadership a little on edge until a competitor picks up on a great opportunity.
What other clouds in the new year? Avon merchants coping with the big box competition to come. Will our kids ever score better than “average” on those assessment tests? Will Vail meet the challenges of its new era with solid decisions about building and running a conference center, along the slew of renovations passing into the approval gantlet? After all, the costs to come over the next handful of years approach a billion dollars. And still, parking will likely be a challenge.
The Vail town government has a great tradition going with its annual community meeting each yesr about this time. This year’s meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. today at the Marriott in Lionshead. As is the custom, they will offer appetizers, drinks and an ear to everyone interested. It would be great to see the valley’s other municipalities do something similar.
Eagle County’s commissioners began a “state of the county” presentation last year, what presumably will become an annual accounting and taking stock of the county’s affairs. This presentation offers constituents a great chance to catch up with this set of leaders, whose decisions after all affect all of our daily lives more directly than nearly all those declarations from Washington, D.C.
The year ahead promises plenty of challenges. But perhaps for the first time in this new millennium, the New Year’s blizzard symbolizes a lining of optimism we haven’t seen since Y2K proved benign.