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Not for the faint of heart

Don Rogers

Last week a citizen admonished the Vail Town Council to avoid taking a “fast path” toward building a conference center in town.Fast path? Could the process possibly be any slower? That’s the real question. After all, the voters narrowly approved taking out bonds for the center way back in November 2002. Now, nearly two years later, the center inches along, still under study. The usual naysayers continue to hold out hope they can yet kill this thing before their baleful vision of town overwhelmed by multitudes in funny hats can come true. That and a timidity that irrationally puts stock in the notion that no one will come to conferences in Vail and it will surely sink the town into bankruptcy. That’s highly unlikely.Still, there is risk in the town building a conference center, just as there was with the Dobson Ice Arena and Ford Amphitheater, now amenities that Vail could not be Vail without. Never mind that some of the more timid of the conference center opponents would have tried to talk Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton out of building a certain ski resort now known as America’s best. But thank the opponents and fearful ones for their contribution of extra prudence as town leaders consider the myriad details and financial projections that go into the center. And, oh yeah, figuring out where exactly to build the thing. Just so those charged with exercising that prudence understand that some of the good folks counseling caution are in truth foot-dragging, hoping to run the clock with the notion that perhaps the town will come to forget about the mandate to build.Yes, the lodging community is pushing for construction, as it has for decades now. There’s a lot of confidence that a town conference center would ease that bust cycle of the Vail economy, in the post-ski season springs in particular. Beyond the studies that support this idea, there’s the enthusiasm of meeting planning consultants for the Vail center.The scale tips decisively, in our view, toward building that center. And let’s not forget that a vote of the people was for the center.Anti-conference center folks casting for problems to raise, doubt to sow, will of course keep making their various cases, just as they did with the Middle Creek affordable housing complex and just as they did against the amphitheater and Dobson in their time.The truly prudent leaders Vail has entrusted to make the right decisions need to recognize this strain and not allow these timid folk to paralyze the community as it reaches for renaissance.Faintness of heart did not build this resort and community. That’s the real legacy to uphold. D.R.


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