Outgoing mayor gets roundabout honor | VailDaily.com

Outgoing mayor gets roundabout honor

Matt Zalaznick
Special to the DailyOutgoing Mayor Judy Yoder sits for sculptor George Lundeen, whose bronze bust of the longtime Avon resident will be placed in the town's main roundabout.

Yoder, whom term limits prevented from running for re-election this fall, will be immortalized with a bronze portrait that will stand alongside the roundabout between the Christie Lodge and First Bank. Her visage will go up alongside those of three others who have been similarly honored: former Avon Mayor Alan Nottingham; state Rep. Danny Williams; and former Avon Town Councilwoman Gloria McRory, who passed away in 2000.

“Being involved in helping the direction the town is going, that I’ll miss,” says Yoder, who will leave the Town Council later this month. “I will not miss having to go to meetings.”

The portrait, done by sculptor George Lundeen, was not paid for by the town. It was commissioned by the Avon Arts Council, which chose Yoder its “Citizen of the Year.”

Lundeen’s other works include “The Classics,” which can be seen at the entrance to the Avon Library, and a newly sculpted life-sized bronze called “Downhill Skier,” to be placed at the recently opened Sheraton Mountain Vista.

Yoder, who has lived in Avon since before it was incorporated in 1982, was appointed to the Town Council in 1992 and first elected in 1994. She was re-elected in 1998, when the Town Council picked her to be mayor.

There have been some major achievements for the council in the last decade, she says.

“I think a lot has gotten done in the last nine and a half years,” Yoder says. “I would have liked to have found a place for a golf course for Avon, but I was not able to do that.”

Early on in her two and a half terms, the town raised money and signed a lease to move the library from City Market to its own building next to the fire station on Benchmark Road. The town also passed bond issues to build the Avon Recreation Center and its famous/infamous roundabouts.

“I think the roundabouts are a great achievement for Avon,” Yoder says. “The landscaping and arts program really put us on the map.

“And when you have stoplights,” she adds, “you have more severe accidents. We don’t have those.”

Among her major accomplishments, Yoder also lists the annexation of the land for the Village at Avon shopping complex –where The Home Depot and Wal-Mart Supercenter are being built – and the ballot issue that voters approved to form the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

But there are some projects Yoder says she’s glad weren’t rushed.

“I think at some point there will be a gondola into Avon. But it would have been a mistake to have pushed,” Yoder says.

Vail Resorts has been planning to build a gondola to carry skiers from Avon to the slopes of Beaver Creek Mountain. Vail Resorts has been negotiating with Avon, Bachelor Gulch and Beaver Creek for more than two years now. But a deal in which those three entities would help the company pay for the gondola has yet to be struck.

Yoder says Avon should also take its time on developing a Main Street commercial district on the east side of town that would link to a small ski village Vail Resorts is planning to building alongside the Eagle River.

The town’s economic slump will be one of the biggest ordeals the council will have to deal with in the next few years.

That begs the question of who – or what –runs the town’s economy – the government or the snow?

“Both,” Yoder says.

Regardless of heavy snowfall, a slowdown in growth in Avon could begin to squeeze off the town’s cash flow, Yoder says.

“I think Avon is going to look at the future – no matter what the weather is – in a different light,” she says. “Not that much growth is left that isn’t in the Village at Avon. We’ve had the luxury of doing the projects we’ve needed to do, but we’re going to need some belt-tightening in the future.

“We knew this was coming,” she adds. “I don’t think it’s any surprise.”

The town expects to be about $500,000 short for 2002. To balance next year’s budget, however, the Town Council already has made some controversial spending cuts, including not giving its employees raises.

And though it was not figured into the budget, some town leaders were hoping voters would approve a tax on all building supplies used in the town. The revenues from the tax would have funded the town’s cash-starved free bus system had it not been rejected resoundingly by voters.

“The new council will have some decisions to make,” she says. “There are still ways to trim the budget, but I do think if the snow continues we’ll see a much better economy this winter.”

Yoder has been faulted for the speed at which Avon holds and convenes its council meetings. To those who complain that the Town Council breezes through important votes, Yoder says they should pay more attention to the work sessions, which are open to the public and held before regular council meetings.

Council members also are provided which information packets so they can read up on issues before voting. That cuts down on extraneous discussion, she says.

“A lot of decisions were made after extensive discussion in the work sessions and ratified in the meetings,” Yoder says. “Instead of belaboring things we’d already received in our packets –which are also available to the public – we read the material and went forward.”

Some may confuse the work sessions, which anyone can attend, with executive sessions, which are held rarely but closed to the public.

The town also has been criticized for money spent on public artwork, particularly the bronze horses in the roundabouts. Yoder says the horses were the last public arts project that wasn’t funded by private contributions.

“We keep seeing items in the paper saying the town shouldn’t buy more artwork,” Yoder says. “The town hasn’t committed to buy artwork since 1996. Everything since then has been privately donated, like the-downhill skier that will be put up near the Sheraton Mountain Vista and the bear by FirstBank.”

Yoder has been president of the Board of Trustees for the Eagle Valley Library District and is a founding of the board of the Eagle Valley Library Foundation. She also has been on the boards of the Avon Arts Council and the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

A few last votes are still being counted in Tuesday’s voting for Town Council. Once those are counted, the Town Council – which meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month – will choose Yoder’s replacement.

But now that Yoder won’t have to be at council meetings, she’ll have every Tuesday evening free.

“My husband and I are going to do some traveling. I might even have some time do some more skiing,” she says.

“But I am going to be thinking about the new council,” she adds. “We had a great group of candidates, so we’re going to have another great council. I’m leaving the town in good hands.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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