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Old Guard made today possible

Pepi Gramshammer

I am writing to the citizens of Vail in a last-ditch effort to try and persuade them to take a long look at the proposed Solaris development and the current and future impacts it could have on our town of Vail. The Town Council and the Planning Commission need to realize that rubber-stamping every proposal that a developer brings to them is not always in the best long-term interests for the town of Vail or its citizens, but might only be beneficial to the developer. There have been many letters and articles written in the newspaper about how it is time for the “Old Guard” to step down and let the new guys run the show. I am here to tell you that maybe the “New Guard” Town Council of Farrow Hitt, Kim Newbury, Mark Gordon and Greg Moffet should read and learn a little about the history of Vail and how and why it was developed. They might be able to learn what has made it one of the most successful ski resorts and alpine villages in the world and learn from its past successes. It is too bad some of the most forward-thinking council members like Diana Donovan and Dick Cleveland have been forced out of office by short-sighted council members with no real interest in the history of Vail and what made it the world-class resort it is today. In case you don’t remember, the late Pete Seibert founded Vail and patterned it after the most successful alpine villages and resorts in the world. He did not pattern it after the most successful urban cities in the world. Pete took a look at what had worked in other great ski resorts and was able to do something that nobody was able to do before or since: Build a successful alpine ski village and ski mountain where no town or ski mountain had been before. The so-called “Old Guard” was visionary in their development of this alpine village and mountain as is evident by SKI Magazine’s recognition of Vail as the No. 1-rated ski resort in the United States year after year. The 1989 and 1999 World Alpine Championships and the Vail Valley Foundation’s organization of the Gerald Ford Ski Classic are a few of the other successes brought to Vail by the “Old Guard” and serve as evidence of the world-class appeal of Vail. All the “Old Guard” wants to see happen is for developers to follow existing guidelines in the building codes and zoning and quit demanding special variances to skirt existing rules.It is understandable for every developer to try and maximize their profit and one way to do that is to build high-density buildings as tall as they can. Where Vail development is losing sight of their past history and its successes is through the use of the special development district as a tool for any developer that does not like the zoning to build any size building they want at the expense of what made Vail so successful. Take a walk around Vail Village and views of the mountains are available from every corner and street. DO WE WANTTHE TOWN OF VAIL DEFINED AS AN URBAN CITY WHERE THE BUILDINGS DOMINATE THE LANDSCAPE, OR DO WE WANT THE MOUNTAIN VIEWS TO DOMINATE THE LANDSCAPE? DO YOU WANT TO WALK AROUND IN THE SHADOWS OF HIGHRISE CONDOMINIUMS, OR DO YOU WANT TO WALK AROUND VAIL IN THE SUNSHINE WITH VIEWS AROUND EVERY CORNER OF THE MAJESTIC MOUNTAINS PEOPLE COME HERE TO SEE? If you haven’t done so lately take a walk around the Gateway Building and you will see that it is dwarfed by the new arrival of the Vail Plaza Club and now sits in the shadows with views of only a brick wall. Now take a walk by the new Sonnenalp Hotel that Johannes Faessler built and see how beautiful a building and street can look when it fits within the existing zoning laws and building codes without dominating the landscape and taking away from the mountain vistas the guests come to Vail to see.The “Old Guard” is glad to see Mr. Knobel’s keen interest in making Vail a better place to visit by redeveloping an area that is showing its age. Mr. Knobel is a very smart cookie, and I am sure he can still make quite a bit of money even if he is restricted to building within existing guidelines and has to scale down his building to meet existing codes. Once you have given permission for one developer to bypass the zoning regulations, what is to stop the next one from asking for a new development that goes even higher and bigger? Again I would like to repeat myself: All the “Old Guard” wants to see happen is for developers to follow existing guidelines in the building codes and zoning and quit asking for special variances to skirt existing rules. Vail has been and still is a very special place to live and visit as is evident by its popularity and continued growth. Please consider how these proposed mammoth buildings will change the landscape from one currently dominated by the mountains to an urban landscape dominated by the high-rise condominiums and please vote NO to the current Crossroads proposal. Pepi Gramshammer was instrumental in Vail’s earliest days of building the resort’s reputation.Vail, Colorado


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