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Saying the right things

Don Rogers

Not all of the body believes the time is well past due for this station that the town once had agreed to build no later than 1985.

There are other pressing priorities, not the least of which is a budget that needs substantial slicing even while Vail moves toward the construction part of that renaissance.

A number of town leaders past and present are far from convinced of the necessity for four more firefighters or a station on the west side of town, even in the face of a bevy of studies and staff recommendations lined up in support of what would seem to be a commonsense decision to better protect lives and property.

The firefighters are distrusted of wishing to create empires, never mind that increase in calls for help as well as nettlesome false alarms. More effort should go into capturing payment for calls up the pass or toward Dowd Junction, which the department recoups in roughly equal measure to the other departments along I-70. Insurance premiums would not decline for the addition of a West Vail fire station. Different, cheaper equipment might roll out on freeway calls, for non-Vail residents. More reports establishing need should be filed, in greater detail.

Such are the arguments hurled up against taking care of a chink in Vail’s commitment to public safety, priority No. 1 if you go by the slogans.

Meanwhile, the main, aging Vail station continues to wear, the calls mount, the west side of town gets by with a rural standard for response. That’s fine, until the inevitable delay in service counts a life as the price.

Insurance provides a fitting enough metaphor for Vail’s willingness to build pavilions before fire stations. Premiums are costly, and the catastrophe they aim to cover may never come. With luck …

There you go. Tax payments are a pain. Economic boosters are relatively easy to justify and invest in. Recreation assuredly is more fun. Costs in general threaten to overwhelm that static to dwindling revenue stream.

So it’s tempting to keep putting off that expense on what might never be truly needed – cross your fingers – if your perspective is focused on the town’s bottom line. Two decades is mite long of a wait, though.

The presence of the public a couple of weeks ago seemed to help sharpen the council’s collective mind about fire protection. Understandably, though, their attention will wander if the community allows this. Best keep the pressure on if you expect them to do the right thing.

More typically, unfortunately, tragedy strikes first, and then someone comes up with the sterling idea to do something about the situation. D.R.


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