Ski town? Edwards isn’t even a town
Initially I was heartened by the September issue of SKI magazine’s designation of Edwards as one of its top “ski towns for family-style success” whatever that means.After all, I wrote a column several years ago proclaiming my stubborn allegiance to a dying ski-town ethic of putting my professional and personal life on hold indefinitely to be able to ski powder on cold weekday mornings while the rest of the world struggles in rush-hour traffic.My wife and I were looking for a home back then, and I rather naively proclaimed, “If you’re going to live in a ski town, then live at the base of the ski area,” meaning we were determined to buy in Vail.Then reality set in. For about half the cost, you get twice the house just 15 or 20 miles down the highway. Instead of truthfully being able to call ourselves Vailites (even though both our sons were born there and we still have a Vail P.O. box), we have to admit we’re Edwardians.So to see the nation’s dominant ski mag tab us as a ski town even a family-style one was somewhat of a consolation. Not that we feel we settled. In fact, I can see the ski runs of Arrowhead from my deck, and the weather a thousand feet lower than Vail is significantly warmer.It’s just that we’re more of a Vail suburb than a true ski town. Yes, the yards are bigger here, and all the houses have garages, but that’s part of the problem. Edwards is the burbs.And to be considered a ski town, don’t you first have to be a town? This may be splitting hairs, but Edwards isn’t incorporated. The most populous part of the county, around 9,000 souls at last count, does not have a mayor, a town council, a public high school, its own police force, or anything close to resembling municipal spirit.When the Kobe Bryant story broke this summer, Cordillera was referred to as “somewhere near Edwards,” which was then placed as “somewhere near Vail.” One prominent Edwardian assumed the incident occurred at the Inn at Riverwalk when he heard Edwards on the national news, because that’s our “town’s” only hotel. We don’t even claim our gated communities, perhaps because Edwards is where the real people live, and Cordillera certainly doesn’t claim us.No, Edwards is not a town. Nor is it a ski town. It’s getting to town status, even if no one wants to make it official, but our days as a ski town have passed us by. I realized this as I stood at my son’s soccer practice a few Saturdays ago along with all the other grownup ski bums. Very few of them care about skiing anymore.For years I’ve advocated for incorporation, but the less-layers-of-government crowd still feels it’s worth letting the county determine our fate just to keep our competitive commercial advantage of lower sales taxes. Never mind that we’re starting to rival Avon for worst urban planning.SKI praised our “pedestrian-friendly downtown,” but clearly none of their Boulder-based editors have tried to navigate the Edwards Spur Road and U.S. Highway 6 intersection, a heavily trafficked crossroads made only marginally safer by the county’s feeble upgrades this summer.The jury’s still out on Miller Ranch, but I bet a town planning board and a town council would have done a better job than our de facto mayors, Eagle County commissioners Tom Stone, Michael Gallagher and Arn Menconi, none of whom live in our “town.”Not that incorporation guarantees quality development. Avon’s been a town for more than 20 years, and look what a mess they made of it. The truly pedestrian-friendly elements of Edwards, Riverwalk and Edwards Village, occurred on the county’s watch but so have a lot of its questionable projects.To cap it all off, the county is claiming credit for the “family-style success” of Edwards on its new-and-improved, more Kobe-conscious Website, where there’s a blurb about the SKI ranking.This is the same county government, spearheaded by the always accommodating Stone, that told the Edwards Council of Governments a loose affiliation of local business leaders to basically buzz off a few years back when they asked for more input in determining our “town’s” destiny.So while I’m glad to know that someone out there still thinks I live in a ski town, I’d feel much better about it if we took the plunge and actually became a town.David O. Williams is managing editor of The Vail Trail and has been an editor and writer in the Vail Valley for more than 10 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.