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The big picture

Too often the obvious is overlooked. Kaye Ferry’s commentary of Sept. 10 is a great case in point. Kaye is intelligent and informed. She has seen the community survey results, but unfortunately she looks at these very obvious results through her ideological window.

I, too, have studied these results, and I draw quite a different conclusion. What the results say to me is that the residents of Vail understand the meaning of community. We want to see our leaders put “town” back into Vail. A community or a town doesn’t function without successful business. We understand this. We don’t look at helping the business community as “helping them.” It is helping us, even if we don’t own a local business.

We are much more sophisticated than the Kaye-Kosloff camp would have you believe. We have made Vail our home. We are raising our families here. We want to shop here. We want to work here. And of course we want to play here.

Make no mistake about it, we are looking at the long-term health of the entire community. We believe that it is imperative that we help the local businesses. But we want to help them in a way that will be healthy for the entire town for years to come.

We need to find solutions that fit into the big picture of Vail’s future. This is why I’ve made very specific suggestions to help the businesses in my announcement letter. Kaye and Kosloff just chose to ignore those parts of my platform.

So in the interest of furthering the debate, let me reiterate my proposals to help increase sales tax revenue. One of the most important goals of the upcoming Town Council will be to build the conference center NOW.

Before moving to Vail, I spent over 12 years in the conference industry. I know first-hand the vitality of that industry. I’ve been to over 400 conferences and shows. And I know that Vail’s conference center will be an overwhelming success.

Walking around town the other day in the fall sunshine and seeing the streets empty is the result of having no conference center. The shoulder season streets will be brimming with happy conventioneers (shoppers and diners) in the near future if we build the conference center NOW.

We need to fill the empty storefronts. There have been many proposals to accomplish this worthy goal. I believe just the threat of a vacancy assessment will turn stubborn landlords into friendly business partners.

I’m proposing that the town quickly form a new business incubator. The town can partner in this project with CMC and both business chambers as well as the newly formed Vail Valley Economic Council.

We need to see our current businesses thrive, but we also need a more varied retail mix. Vail is also the ideal place for a non-retail business. A great place to telecommute from. We need to make this happen.

I want to turn the day skiers into overnight guests. In talking to many of the Front Range skiers, their biggest wish is to be able to spend the weekend with us here in Vail. They don’t like the drive, and they don’t like the parking hassles. We need to work with the Vail hotels and lodges and send out a flash e-mail every Friday morning letting the day skiers know about reduced Front Range rates for Friday and Saturday nights. The hotels will be able to fill last-minute room vacancies at reduced rates and the bars, restaurants and shops will be full of happy Front Rangers.

Speaking of parking, I propose that we offer vouchers to the paid parking customers. The vouchers will be as good as cash at any town of Vail business establishment. The vouchers will be for a significant percentage of the parking fee. Yes I’m aware that this will reduce the revenue generated by parking, but the program will increase sales tax revenue, as well as turn skiers into shoppers.

Last but certainly not least is the regulatory process. We need it to be rigorous but fair. I’m completely in favor of making the process smarter and more efficient. What I mean by this is that we need to do a better job of explaining the process to the applicants. We need to provide them with more realistic expectations.

Of course there are regulations that can be made smarter, but we shouldn’t throw out the entire regulatory mechanism. The town of Vail has to ensure world class quality in any of the new developments or the refurbishing of any existing business structures.

But by all means I’m in favor of “revitalizing the core business areas.” We need the town to be vibrant again.

It is no secret that I’m a big supporter of community. But my notion of community is not a business owner versus resident versus second-home owner. I believe that we are all in this together, and that on the overwhelming majority of issues we all agree on the right course of action.

We need leaders who recognize this synergy and who will keep the big picture in mind as they make the day-to-day decisions of governing. My years of business ownership have taught me that we can’t forget the goals, even if sometimes they seem remote and unrelated to the problems at hand. I learned my lesson well.

I’m in this for the long haul and have already shown (in my previous letters) what my vision for Vail’s future looks like. We need to keep this vision in mind and should always be moving toward it.

Recently Vail was (deservedly) named the No. 1 ski resort again. My goal is to make us the No. 1 ski town.

Mark Gordon


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