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Richard Carnes: A tale of two children

Let’s see if I have this straight:

Vail Resorts (VR) runs the ski mountain.

The ski mountain brings people to Vail.



People need a place to park their cars.

VR donates land to the Town of Vail (TOV) under a deed restriction that it be used for public parking.



TOV agrees and builds a parking structure.

The parking structure fills with cars full of happy people going to the wonderful ski mountain.

“Hooray,” everyone shouts.



VR makes money, TOV makes money, and everyone is happy-happy-happy.

Flash forward a few decades…

TOV wants a developer to rebuild the parking structure. It’s old and run-down, and a new one could hold so much more stuff, including more parking.

VR responds, “No.”

TOV asks, “Why not?”

“Because.”

“Because why?”

“Because we don’t like it.”

“I thought we were friends.”

“You thought wrong.”

“But we promise to keep the current number of parking spaces available during construction.”

VR crosses its arms, stomps its foot in the ground, and shouts, “NO!”

“You’re being unreasonable.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“This is not a negotiation for us,” claims the VR leader.

“Hey, weren’t you guys interested in building something too?”

“Um…” VR now begins shuffling uncomfortably from side to side, no longer looking TOV in the eye.

“You know what,” continues TOV. “Now that we think about it, we don’t think YOUR building provides enough public parking, transit facilities, or skier drop-off areas.”

“So … what?”

“Well, I’m afraid we’re not going to be able to approve it.”

“But “”

“No buts … unless, hey, wait a minute. I tell you what, if you lift the deed restriction so we can renovate our parking garage, we’ll take another look at your project. How’s that sound?”

“Not good.”

“Why not?”

“Because we’re building something kind of similar.”

“You are?”

“Yep.”

“So, you’re saying that you will not allow us to renovate our parking garage with all the other stuff because you want to build your own parking garage with other stuff?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Hmmmmm. What to do, what to do, what to do?” says the TOV, somewhat reflectively.

And so the children sit, each arms crossed in a corner, both refusing to blink, neither offering a compromise.

One represents its people, the other its stockholders. One supported by citizens and the deep pockets of a private equity firm, the other dealing with a downward spiraling market and an uncertain service level for future guests.

I have a good idea which one is about to start blinking.

But either way, it’s like an impasse during divorce proceedings where the judge, frustrated at the constant back and forth bickering over who gets to keep the clap-on, clap-off yodeling fish, slams down his gavel and demands the two parties involved be locked into a tiny room with no air conditioning until they can come to a common sense agreement to benefit all relatively equally.

Time to lock the door.

NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper … but for the good of Happy Valley, he thinks they should be.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily on Tuesdays. He can be reached at poor@vail.net.


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