Switching gear into spring: Preparation for summer underway | VailDaily.com

Switching gear into spring: Preparation for summer underway

The town of Vail garden crew commences spring cleaning and bed preparation at the West Vail firehouse on Wednesday. Town employees are busy this time of year cleaning, hiring and preparing the town for summer.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

VAIL — With the local ski areas closed and many residents fleeing for warmer weather, employees of the town of Vail and the Vail Recreation District aren’t having the same shoulder season experience.

“A lot of people don’t realize the behind the scenes things that go on,” said Susie Hervert, of the Vail Public Works Department. “It’s really not an offseason for us.”

Town employees are busy with everything from general cleaning and construction to planting flower beds and going through the summer hiring process. The clock is counting down to when town is generally bustling again.

“We have a huge push to get the town all spiffed up and ready by the Fourth of July, so we’re in full swing,” Hervert said.

“Things accumulate all winter long, and then when the snow melts, you start to see what the snow has masked all year.”Mark HoblitzellTown of Vail environmental sustainability coordinator

The winter lights are in the process of coming down across town. The lights are on a two-year cycle, so those red, white and blue-themed lights brought in for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will be replaced next year with a new color scheme.

Irrigation and carpenter crews are also starting their work, now that winter has come to an end.

The town maintains about 230 to 250 year-round employees, said Krista Miller, of the human resources department. Some positions, such as many bus drivers or parking booth attendants, are seasonal, but some full-time employees wear many hats. For instance, the parking structure supervisor in the winter becomes the landscape supervisor in the summer, when the parking structures are free.

Keeping the town clean is a year-round effort, and now is a time to wash everything from streets to bathrooms after the winter.

“That’s something that we definitely put a big emphasis on is cleanliness,” Hervert said.

At the Vail Recreation District, similar operations are happening in preparation for summer activities.

“We’re all hands on deck right now because we’re ramping up for all of our summer events,” said Jessie Klehfoth, marketing and communications director at the district. “We balloon our staff quite a bit in the summer to fill in some positions.”

The district has already held two short-track mountain bike races, but staff are preparing for the full summer bike race series, whitewater race series, opening the golf course and other events.

CLEANUP DAY

As part of shifting attention to the coming season, the town is preparing for its annual Cleanup Day, set for May 21. Volunteers will gather at 9 a.m. at Donovan Park for organization before going out across the villages and neighborhoods, beautifying the streets.

“Things accumulate all winter long, and then when the snow melts, you start to see what the snow has masked all year,” said Mark Hoblitzell, who is coordinating the cleanup.

The cleanup day will include a barbecue afterward at Donovan Pavilion. The first 100 people to sign up will receive a $25 donation to a local nonprofit in their names.

New this year, the town will provide a way to dispose of items that are usually difficult to get rid of — hazardous waste, yard waste, electronic waste and more — on Friday, May 20.

“While people are in the spirit of spring cleaning, we wanted to bring that hard-to-recycle event,” Hoblitzell said. “We’re excited this year to have them on back-to-back days and make a spring blitz out of it.”

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.