Service to Buffalo Ridge, Wal-Mart canceled
Vail CO, Colorado
AVON ” The popular bus stops at Buffalo Ridge and Wal-Mart, regrettably, must be canceled, the Avon Town Council told loyal riders Tuesday.
The council heard testimony from two Buffalo Ridge residents ” Monica Ruiz, a single mother with three children, and Keith Foutz, who’s disabled and works at Wal-Mart. Both Ruiz and Foutz said they depend on the bus to get to their jobs.
Ruiz also presented a petition with more than 600 signatures, letting Avon know how much the stops are needed.
The pleas weren’t enough to change minds. The council still says that Traer Creek Metropolitan District should be paying for bus service to the Village at Avon and the town doesn’t have the money to keep paying for those extra stops.
The council voted unanimously to end bus service at the Village at Avon.
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Ruiz asked councilors if they considered how much the decision would affect the people living in Buffalo Ridge.
Mayor Ron Wolfe said the council is very aware of the impact, but the town would simply go bankrupt if it kept paying for a bus it couldn’t afford. He encouraged Ruiz and other Buffalo Ridge residents to take the petition and complaints to the next metro district meeting in May. They have the the ability and the obligation to keep those buses going, Wolfe said.
“Meanwhile, we’ll be without a bus,” Ruiz said.
Avon wanted the metro district to pay for bus service to the Village at Avon when it started in June, but the district didn’t think bus service was necessary, at least not yet.
The district ” basically an arm of Village at Avon developer Traer Creek LLC ” agreed to consider a funding a route when more people move into the area and when more businesses are paying taxes. Legally, it’s up to the district to request bus service. The Town Council decided to start service anyway and pay the bill, hoping to prove how much the stops are needed.
Wal-Mart quickly became the most popular stop in Avon, with more than 56,500 people boarding or unloading there in the past year. There’s only a limited pool of riders at Buffalo Ridge, but a large number of residents use the bus and depend on it to get to work.
In retrospect, the council incorrectly assumed Traer Creek would take this evidence seriously, Wolfe said.
“The town was hopeful that once they (Traer Creek) saw how many passengers it was moving, they would help out,” Town Manager Larry Brooks said. “Legally, they don’t have to, but when are they going to believe it’s justified?”
The agreement with Traer Creek was supposed to prevent existing taxpayers from subsidizing the development and make sure the developer pays its own way, Wolfe said. Metro district president Dan Leary said it’s misleading to suggest that the metro district hasn’t been paying its way.
“Each year we already pay more than $1 million dollars to the town,” Leary said. “About 60 percent of that is for police and street-maintenance services rendered to the Village, and about 40 percent of it is for the retail sales tax shortfall at the old Wal-Mart site.”
He also said it’s misleading to suggest that the metro district has a moral obligation to fund what he calls an “unsustainable bus service.”
“The town decided to start the service on its own initiative,” Leary said. “Apparently, it was an untimely decision.”
Wolfe said the metro district could easily raise the sales fee for the Village at Avon, which could be used to fund transportation.
The sales fee at the Village is currently 4 percent. Wolfe said an increase of .5 percent, or 50 cents for every 100 dollars of groceries at Wal-Mart, could be enough to fund transportation.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or email@example.com.