Task force taking on Lionshead | VailDaily.com

Task force taking on Lionshead

Geraldine Haldner

“There are so many moving pieces,” he told four of the seven members of the Vail Town Council Tuesday, illustrating his comment with a gesture intended to express the enormity of the task they have volunteered to tackle as members of the Lionshead Task Force.

Arms wide open and palms facing the ceiling, McLaurin told council members Diana Donovan, Bill Jewitt, Ludwig Kurz and Chuck Ogilby they had their work cut out for them, complete with rigid deadlines and political hot-button issues to boot.

“I see our job as tying this hole mess together,” Ogilby said, thumbing through a list of a half-dozen public improvement projects.

As outlined in the 1999 Lionshead Master Plan, these projects should be scheduled and financed in concert with as many as a dozen private projects – all moving targets as they proceed through the town’s approval process.

At the head of line of possible projects is Vail Resorts’ $400 million redevelopment plans for five of its holdings in Lionshead – the largest re-investment in the 30-year-old commercial center’s history.

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Announced in February, the multi-year project, which will include a vacation club on the West Day parking lot next to the Marriott Hotel, a 116-room hotel and 52 condominiums in place of the Old Gondola Building, as well as an employee housing complex and a maintenance and service center on the Holy Cross site, is tentatively scheduled to start in 2003.

What they want to do

Public improvement projects outlined in the 1999 Lionshead Master Plan include:

– East Lionshead Circle – For approximately $4 million, the town hopes to create a new eastern entrance and a bus drop-off facility at Lionshead, along with improvements to East Lionshead Circle.

– Frontage Road – For $15 million, the town wants to add turning lanes and landscaping to the road along with improved sidewalks, crossing lanes and other public safety projects.

– Lionshead Mall – For about $9 million, the pedestrian mall would be modernized with new, heated pavement, as well as assorted landscaping accents, benches and small park areas.

– West Lionshead Circle – For $1.5 million the master plan outlines various improvements to the western motorized access road to Lionshead.

– Lionshead Parking Structure – For $15 million the town would like to put an additional level – with 350 parking spaces – on the existing parking structure.

– Gore Creek – For $790,000, budgeted from the town’s Real Estate Transfer Tax, or RETT, fund, the stream area would be improved.

– North Day Lot – Originally planned to be used for a loading, delivery and bus drop-off facility similar to the Vail Transportation Center, the parking lot at the western edge of Lionshead could become the site for a 20,000- to 40,000-square-feet conference center. Vail Resorts, which owns the site, would allow its use for a conference facility – if the town comes up with the funding. A conference center in that location is estimated to cost at least $20 million. A group of lodging representatives have been working on a proposal. A presentation of their work is expected in June.

Meetings of the minds

Before tackling the tougher topics of financing and scheduling public improvement projects, ranging from wider roads to an additional plate of parking atop the Lionshead Parking Structure, the task force members agreed to meet on a regular basis and seek input from a wider circle of Lionshead representatives.

Staff was instructed to advertise the formation of the task force and ask for volunteers from the Lionshead business and residential community to participate in the group’s meetings, which will be held on the first and third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m.

By June 4, the task force plans to set aside time to consider various financing mechanisms to pay for the public improvement projects.

Join the force

The Lionshead Task Force, currently comprised of four members of the Vail Town Council, is looking for Lionshead representatives to assist them in planning roughly $60 in public improvements to Lionshead over the next two to four years.

The task force will provide recommendations to the Vail Town Council on public infrastructure needs, financing tools, maintenance requirements, policies related to the sale or lease of town land for development, information dissemination and construction coordination.

Letters of application stating qualifications and interest should be sent to: Lorelei Donaldson, Vail Town Clerk, Town of Vail, 75 S. Frontage Rd., Vail, CO 81657. Deadline for letters is May 24 at 5 p.m. Appointments will be made on May 28.

Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 602 or at ghaldner@vaildaily.com

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