Thought I’d heard it all
I thought I had heard just about everything at the Vail Town Council, but last Tuesday set a new pinnacle. I taught skiing all of last week, so I missed the afternoon council work session, but I did not miss hearing about it.
One of the items on the agenda was interviews for the wide variety of advisory board positions that were available. Things like Design and Review Board, the Planning and Environmental Commission, and the Art in Public Places Board.
One of our female council members asked such personal questions of one of the applicants that the room vibrated between gasps and nervous laughter. The questions over stepped the bounds of propriety in every sense of the word. When relaying the scenario to a lawyer friend, the only comment was that it was a good thing it didn’t happen in the private sector or a lawsuit would be on its way.
We then moved into the evening session, and the subject turned to funding of the summer airline schedule into Eagle County Regional Airport. A pledge was made last December. There was some confusion as to how to handle the actual town contribution at this time, and a circular conversation ensued.
What was promised? When it was it promised? Was it really promised at all or just sort of agreed to but never voted on? Is a pledge the same as a promise and is any of it binding at all if there hasn’t been two readings in ordinance form?
And around it went once again. It all seemed a bit unclear except to the poor guy standing up there making the request. He thought he had a deal last December. Well low and behold, the very same aforementioned councilwoman said that since the Town Council couldn’t figure it out, they looked like a bunch of … . You fill in the blanks. No kidding! Watch the tape! At which point, the councilman to her right told her to speak for herself.
I tell you, it set a new standard in those chambers!
But wait. I’m not finished. We finally got to the last item on the agenda, which was the change of location for the farmer’s market and the resultant change of bus routes.
The chamber had been asked to weigh in on both issues. While there was support for the new location, a suggestion on the bus routing was not taken. As a result, guests using public transportation on Sundays will have to access the village from either the Crossroads area or Vail Athletic Club. There will be no drop off at the transportation center or at the covered bridge for in town traffic. In other words, no direct access to Bridge Street.
Part 2 of that discussion dealt with the Fourth of July, which falls on a Sunday, also the day of the farmer’s market. As background, any event that impacts the streets of Vail is reviewed by the Design Review Team. The DRT is composed of fire, police, public works and special events reps, etc., so that the effects of the event can be measured and concerns addressed.
The DRT reviewed the market’s request. The recommendation was that the town was already too busy and congested on the Fourth. The applicant then appealed to the Town Council, which overturned that advice.
Where to start? All departments of the town weighed in and unanimously agreed – not a good idea on the Fourth. The chamber agreed. But none of that was good enough for our elected officials.
As a result, on the Fourth of July, 67-plus booths will be set up at the base of the main Vail Village parking structure steps.
So let’s just think about this. The village merchants will just have reopened after pretty much being out of business while the streets are torn up in the off-season. Now they finally have a chance of being able to make some money and pay rent out of cash flow instead of their line of credit. So what happens? Out-of-town vendors will arrive 67 strong to cash in on the busiest day of the year.
I have a couple of questions. Why would anybody want to pay exorbitant rent on an annual basis when for $75 they can pitch a tent at a great location on the busiest day of the year? Is there no loyalty to the local merchant?
Did I mention that all summer long, the farmer’s market runs EVERY Sunday and the Art and Wine Faire runs EVERY Saturday? Guests are going to think they’re in a tent city in the Arabian Desert. Talk about turning this resort into a flea market! What happened to the term world class? Events are terrific, but a full fledged tent city every weekend is ridiculous.
Because I thinks it’s important that you know how they all voted, here’s how it went: Cleveland, Donovan, Hitt, Logan and Moffet for; Ruotolo and Slifer against. Thankfully two had some sense.
On a more positive note, the town meeting last Thursday was very informative. The mayor opened, the town manager provided an overview, community development outlined all of the projects currently in some state of review or approval, and the finance director explained how it all fits in to dollars and cents.
The turnout was good – perhaps not as many people as the December date has traditionally drawn, but good nonetheless. All in all, those in attendance came away with a better idea of what’s about to happen in both Vail Village and Lionshead. Word is that the next area of focus will be
West Vail. Merchants there have taken some pretty major financial hits as a result of the downvalley box stores.
Cars on the Frontage Road: None.
Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.