The classic mayor’s letter
It’s been six weeks since the town of Vail’s annual retreat. The day was used to review the state of the town and to set priorities for the coming couple of years. It’s usually held earlier, but the special election pushed everything back and the retreat was held in mid-February.
For those of you who attended the State of the Town meeting on March 18, the retreat was somewhat of a prelude. The mayor gave an intro, the town manager presented an overview, the director of community development laid out all of the projects that are in the works for the next 5-plus years, and the finance director outlined how everything fits into the number-crunching business.
You who were there, heard it; you who weren’t, read about it. So I won’t bore you with the details. But one of the most fascinating elements of the retreat came at the very end, actually, as we all were about to leave the room. The mayor passed out a letter that he ran across. It was written by him in 1985, just as he was completing his previous tenure on the Town Council, as well as his previous tenure as mayor.
The letter was unique in its timelessness. He referred to the TC’s accomplishments and I was struck by the similarities to today: the East Vail fire station, only now it’s West Vail; the construction of the Lionshead parking structure, now we’re talking about an addition; and the new Lionshead Mall and we’re preparing for that again.
He also pointed out that Vail is not just a ski resort but a year-round resort where children are born and leave only to return to become the new leaders. Starting to sound familiar yet?
A most interesting observation was that “the town will now be entering a totally new era in which our growth patterns have changed and our economic future and viability will be different than it has been in the past.” Remember, that was 1985.
It gets more pointed as he outlines the areas that will need to be addressed in the near future.
1. Economic Growth. The appointment of an Economic Development Commission was intended to identify the problems and make recommendations concerning economic vitality. (Interesting that this has been suggested again in recent times to no avail).
2. Growth. Erosion of lodge rooms and a quality product along with the necessity to upgrade the infrastructure was identified here.
3. Housing. Probably the only area where we have made significant strides.
4. Water. This could be the only issue that will never be truly solved.
5. Diminishing Revenue Sources. He stated that it would be difficult to find new revenue sources to build necessary capital improvements. Here he referred to that scary term – and one that I personally find offensive – “world class.”
6. Quality of Life. The fine line in the disparity between the needs of the permanent residents and our guests was addressed.
He commented that as he served on the TC, each year became more difficult and more political. As Vail grows, special interest groups make the task of serving more of a challenge. Issues, he said, will become more difficult to resolve and will require the cooperation of all citizens and groups and the TC itself. The council will have to set goals, provide leadership and work together – things that were identified in the last community survey as not yet being achieved.
He closed with some words of advice for future councils. He reminded them to be open and aboveboard in their deliberations; to remain accessible to residents and guests; to put the long-term best interests of Vail as the overriding factor in their decisions; to stay in touch with the people; to stay out of the ivory tower; to work hard; to use all of their energies to lead the TOV forward; and to have the courage of their convictions.
All in all, I’d say that this 20-year-old document would serve us well if implemented today. But I found it ironical that the same issues facing the TC all those years ago are essentially the same ones on the front burner today. They have morphed to some degree, but for all practical purpose they are the same. Does this reinforce the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same?
But I also have to say “Good for you Rod” for having the vision almost 20 years ago to state all of this so clearly.
DID YOU READ TOMMY? I can call him Tommy because I’ve known him since he was a little kid. But did you read his very tongue-in-cheek column in the March 25 Trail? He goes after Tipsline in such a funny way, yet he’s ABSOLUTELY correct. Don’t miss it! It’s been fun to watch him get better and better in his writing skills. Go Tommy!
A CLUE: I’ve had so many people ask just what was the word that the councilwoman used to describe her compatriots. Well, it can’t be printed in a family newspaper which was the reason for all of the dots last week. But I can give you a clue. The word begins with an “A” and refers to a body orifice. Not surprisingly, no one asked which councilwoman. That part was easy.
Cars on the Frontage Road: Saturday, zero; Sunday, zero. Looks like they’ve all gone golfing.
Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail email@example.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, vaildaily.com-columnists or search:ferry.
Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.