Streetscape plan survives … barely

Geraldine Haldner

Councilman Dick Cleveland calls the plan “mind-boggling,” while his colleague Rod Slifer, a village property owner himself, says proposed assessments of $8 to $17 per square foot “are never going to work.”

Public Works Director Greg Hall and the Vail Village Streetscape Project’s design team are now saddled with the task making the cost-sharing plan cheaper to salvage.

The plan outlines how commercial and private-property owners along Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive, as well as Hanson Ranch Road, would be billed for improvements that would benefit them, as well as the general public and visitors.

The streetscape project was initiated last spring by the council in an effort to clean up and beautify pedestrian areas in the village in conjunction with Vail Resorts’ $75 million to remodel the Vista Bahn ski yard, commonly known as Vail’s Front Door. The project proposes to bury unsightly parking to make room for a park, a private vacation club and a skier service facility near the chairlift.

The ski company has pledged $1 million if the town comes up with a plan to redo the village’s connection to the ski yard.

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After seven months of public meetings with village residents and business owners, the council directed Denver-based designer Bill Wink and his team to include a $2.1 million snow-melting system for Bridge Street and parts of Gore Creek Drive, as well as $1.7 million to the streetscape project’s $7 to $10 million scope.

Aside from a snow-melt system, the streetscape project includes pocket parks, planters, new pavement and a complete renovation of the Children’s Fountain plaza.

Council members at the time directed the team to formulate a plan that would fairly distribute the cost of snow-melting among those thought to benefit from a snow-melt system.

But the formulas – assessing commercial property owners roughly twice as much as residential property owners – quickly faded into the background when council members balked at financing the $3.8 million portion of the project through a special improvement district.

If there are no cheaper alternatives, council members say they will let the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District go ahead this spring and fall with its waterline replacement project and forgo combining it with the installation of a snow-melt system, as originally intended.

The water district is scheduled to begin a multi-year replacement project this April on Hanson Ranch Road. The project, to be scheduled during off-season months, eventually will replace outdated waterlines throughout the village.

Geraldine Haldner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at

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