Paul Rondeau’s vision for Vail |

Paul Rondeau’s vision for Vail

I’m Paul Rondeau (pronounced “Rondo”). I’d like to give you my thoughts as a Town of Vail council candidate using a vision statement. I won’t start with the vision, but with some interesting views of Vail passed on to me:n By visitors: narrowness of shopping options, lack of history/local color, amongst other things – all equating to a one-dimensional Vail.n By residents: An acquaintance has just moved with his wife and children from Vail to Boulder to experience a broader range of activities and a friend will be be moving from Vail to the Aspen-Glenwood area to be nearer classical music listening and participation opportunities – again a lack of dimension.Before you think of response comments, let me introduce a notion of an enhanced VISION of VAIL. The vision is a Vail as the Number ONE mountain community when considering FIVE dimensions: (1) body/health, (2) mind/soul, (3) all ages, (4) all seasons and (5) employment/small business opportunities.DIMENSION 1, Vail as “the” place to visit or live for BODY/HEALTH.WHERE ARE WE TODAY? We seem to have world class everything – the No. 1 ski mountain, other winter activities galore, summer activities galore, great weather to enjoy it all, fitness clubs/spas, health care, etc. And we must keep the regional view in mind – rafting is downvalley, mountain sailing is on Lake Dillon, etc.WHAT’S TO DO SHORT TERM? Do a better job of telling our story – i.e. marketing. And we don’t want to be world-class in noise pollution. Hence, tackling practical noise and air pollution mitigation – local commercial vehicles & construction equipment, and whatever we can do with I-70 that will not come back to haunt us.Plus, build the third fire station to give us equitable fire and first responder service across our 100mile-long Vail, coupled with back-up in the event of multiple in-town and I-70 events (especially in the winter).LONG TERM POSSIBILITIES? Cover I-70 – out of sight, cut the noise and filter the air.DIMENSION 2, Vail as “the” place to visit or live for MIND/SOUL.WHERE ARE WE TODAY? We are getting close – diverse musical events at the amphitheater, on the street and elsewhere; galleries, art shows; library, bookstore; full calendar of local events; chapel, religious organizations; neighborhood involvement and volunteer opportunities; skiing history museum, etc.Again, keep the regional view in mind – the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek; Vail Foundation and Symposium events in the area; Colorado Mountain College will be in Edwards; mining museum in Leadville, etc. For K-12 schooling – public is regionalized and private is both here in Vail and downvalley.WHAT’S TO DO SHORT TERM? Again, do a better job of telling our story. But going on to leverage our name (VAIL) so we can continue to build on the notion of Vail as a center of energy, excitement, culture, education and environmentalism (see Vail’s mission statement).We need a two-pronged summer image. The Bravo and dance programs are great. But how about an August “common man” (composer Copeland’s term) signature event? Turning to “sense of community,” we should have a citizen’s fire academy similar to our citizen’s police academy in that it produces a core of volunteers. A fire academy could create citizen first responder teams (augmenting the trained professionals) and auxiliary support for our three neighborhood fire stations.LONG TERM POSSIBILITIES? On the education front, we may seek out a benefactor to create an Aspen Institute-type concept here in Vail. Also, let’s take the lead in having vibrant local orchestra and theater – surely we have enough people in our region to support these. Improve our Eagle County transportation system with light rail – an attractive, environmentally friendly and predictable way to transport our guests and local residents.DIMENSION 3, Vail as a great place to visit or live for ALL AGES.WHERE ARE WE TODAY? The vision encompasses children, youth, singles, families, adults and seniors. Most, but not all, of the need has been in the younger end of the spectrum. Enabling dimension No. 3 involves all the other dimensions, coupled with special focus on activities (visitors/residents) and affordable housing (residents). For activities (and services), offerings come from the K-12 school systems, VRD, Vail Resorts, again the CMC, Eagle County and private/nonprofit operators.The town’s role has been to provide the infrastructure and selective operations assistance. For affordable housing, the town has facilitated a base of deed-restricted (rental and purchase) housing and now owns Timber Ridge (seasona/yearly rentals). Soon Middle Creek will be completed (more seasonal/yearly rentals).WHAT’S TO DO SHORT TERM? For activities (local youth and children), a balance between being in Vail or regionally sited has to be closely examined (e.g. gymnastics, ice) based on multiple considerations. For affordable housing, perhaps its time to take a deep breath. The apparent oversupply of rental units in the region will have yet-to-be-determined impact on rental and for sale housing in our area. Since government’s process is frequently behind the curve and lacks the flexibility of the free market, it would seee unwise to begin any major new housing initiative at this time.LONG TERM POSSIBILITIES? For both housing and activities, a lot depends on the economic engine in terms of how many jobs are going to be created or recaptured in order to put substance behind the notion of increasing the number of young people and families in Vail – a necessary part of our vibrant community. And, as the Vail population ages, the need for senior services and facilities will rise. Again, light rail in Eagle County would safely shuttle all ages through the “white knuckle” Dowd Junction.DIMENSION 4, Vail as a great place to visit or live for ALL SEASONS.WHERE ARE WE TODAY? Locals already know there is no bad time of the year; e.g., just as Vail Mountain closes, the good road biking, backcountry skiing, etc., begin. But more important, Vail should be a place where our economic engine is running at full throttle for eight-plus months – including retail, restaurants, lodging and support services. Then, running at three-plus months of scaled-down operations – enough to keep sales tax flowing and key staff working, coupled with enough restaurants open so locals don’t have to leave Vail to dine out. For a variety of reasons, we aren’t there on the full throttle or eight-plus month aspects.WHAT’S TO DO SHORT TO MID TERM? FIRST consider running at our full throttle potential for any period of time. This requires Vail’s extensive private revitalization program to be well under way. This equates to a huge load on the council, boards and the staff to marshal these many projects. On top of this, the town has to find the money (and same marshaling resources) to make the many talked-about, complementary infrastructure improvements. Additionally, the town needs to make some rules and regs changes to assist retailers and restaurants. Further, landlords should be brought into the picture for real dialogue. Enough pieces will then be in place to seriously address the scope of retail offerings in Vail. THEN IN PARALLEL, consider running at full throttle for the extended period (8-1/2 months). This involves a whole series of things falling into place: (a) booming economies in Denver, USA, global; (b) a conference center that is properly designed to complement the many smaller meeting and ballrooms in current/planned hotels; (c) extended season air service into Eagle; and (d) probably a little “MTV creativity” – a company that moved its unknown TV channel to an international giant with raw energy and a vision.LONG TERM POSSIBILITIES? Regional light rail that would go into Denver would make Vail a l2-month of the year suburb of Denver – an interesting and contentious idea!DIMENSION 5, Vail as a great place for EMPLOYMENT AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNERSHIP. The three largest employers in Vail are Vail Resorts, Vail Valley Medical Center and the town of Vail. It goes from the big three down to the one-, two-person operations. It is presumptuous and out of the scope of this document to characterize where we are today. The longer view goals include maintaining balance between supply/demand for employees and small business opportunities, coupled with Eagle County light rail transportation. Clearly Dimension 5 supports and/or interrelates to the other dimensions.IN SUMMARY, this is a vision. It goes from short to long term. It brings up specifics – some are problematical. Most importantly, it pushes the envelope beyond current possibilities. And it takes the sum of all five dimensions to to be a Number One. The town of Vail can play an active role in only some of the suggested actions, and only so many at one time.Finally, Vail has the name. We must maintain our flagship position and our leadership by continuing to elect a Vail Town Council worthy of challenge. And today, the bar needs to be raised. A new sense of urgency is required -perhaps not needed since the early days of Vail town government. This equates to one word, CHANGE.The new town manager is one aspect of that change, and the council’s operational aspects are the other.The key thing is to vote. You’ll consider an individual that reflects your views about Vail. You may want to think about how a candidate might interact with other council members – noting nothing will happen except talk unless a majority vote is reached for key topics. I hope my positions will earn your vote. Thanks.Paul RondeauVail

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