Option for the ordinary citizens | VailDaily.com

Option for the ordinary citizens

Paul Rondeau

The Vail conference center has been under review since being passed with a record ORDINARY CITIZEN voter turnout in November 2002 – facilitated through an organized, get-out-the-vote campaign. In the meantime there has not been a ground swell of ORDINARY CITIZENS clamoring for its moving forward. Rather, we hear from committee members, our council, special interests and our usual backbenchers about the risks-rewards of going ahead OR what might be involved-said if we decide not to go ahead.The lack of ORDINARY CITIZEN support can be summarized in a nutshell by the time honored expression: “What’s wrong with this picture?” The picture is where ORDINARY CITIZENS either pay, lose, risk or get nothing out of the conference center as it is now configured:– They partly pay for it with the 0.5 percent sales tax on Vail expenditures: restaurants, shops, various services and a number of items in supermarkets.– They realize it will basically sit empty during the ski season.– They realize it will lose money. Even the most ardent supporters do not dispute this. The only question is how much.* They should realize this money losing proposition may require the town to bail the conference center out with higher taxes.* They should remember loss of the location originally designated as a multifunction facility per all the citizen input sessions held. Note the common belief at the time of the vote was the conference center was to be on land west of Lionshead.So what’s to be done? Simply, the THIRD OPTION. Let’s configure the conference center to include an auditorium or lecture hall – with tiered floor, theater seating and some form of stage. This would complement most of the conference scenarios where the conference center works in conjunction with hotel facilities. Then the auditorium or lecture hall would be available as a useful, community-proud facility for ORDINARY CITIZENS when conferences are not in play. Then I think you will find a ground swell of local folks who will say “damn the torpedoes, let’s go ahead with this project and take the risk.” Hence, the THIRD OPTION needs to be discussed as a viable option. Putting things in perspective, everything has changed since the 2002 vote including: — More hotels now coming on-line in Vail with their own conference space, thereby changing the conference center requirements. * Overbuilt conference facilities across the nation – you can argue over the degree that this will affect things, but not the basic trend.* The electorate of ORDINARY CITIZENS hasn’t followed up the 2002 vote with a clamoring for the facility to be built – a “what’s wrong with this picture” litmus test highlighting the need for a “better late than never” redesign and jump start.Let’s see if we can turn this “battleship” around with OPTION THREE.With this third option to consider and hence more transparency, it IS all about process. With the go/no-go financial decision now pushed back to spring, we now have this opportunity for the ORDINARY CITIZEN and the Vail economic engine. As a final post script, consider a quote from town of Vail Conference Center Business Plan: “A coordinated community-wide effort will be necessary to successfully fund this project.” Paul Rondeau is a resident of Vail.Vail, Colorado

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