Through the looking glass
I met with the new owner-developer of Crossroads (soon to have a new, more energetic name – Crossroads, that is). Hallelujah and hold on because this is going to knock your socks off! Everything you ever thought we needed but didn’t have is planned for that location. Movie theaters, bowling alley, lots of parking, many restaurants, retail, residential, ice skating rink, concert venue, etc. Cross your fingers that nobody kills the enthusiasm behind this project because from where I sit, this is the most exciting addition we’ve ever had to Vail Village. Finally.I went to two other interesting meetings this week. The Vail Chamber and Business Association addressed the theft issue at their monthly meeting on the 13th. There has been a flurry of shoplifting. So in came the experts.The main speaker is nationally known and has appeared with Tom Brokaw and on NPR. He shared that theft comes in many forms, but three areas deserve the closest attention: customer theft, employee theft and vendor theft. Astonishingly, 66 percent of all theft comes from employees and accounts for a loss of up to 7 percent of gross profits.The statistics were fascinating, but the advice on what to do was the most helpful. Watch closely when you think someone is acting suspiciously. In general, they must leave the premises with the merchandise before they can be accused. However, if you witness something being concealed, i.e. in a backpack, call the police and they can proceed with a search. This raised a few questions from the merchants who felt that the Vail Police Department has not been very aggressive in these matters. A recent incident was related where the police department was called, the shoplifters were apprehended, the merchandise retrieved, but the police advised the store – very strongly – against pressing charges because the girls were from out of state.The detective who attended on behalf of the town was surprised by that and similar stories, and suggested that the police be called whenever there’s a problem, as their mission is to follow through on such complaints. The next day, after having recently been appointed to the liquor board (aka Vail Local Licensing Authority), I was sworn in for my first meeting. Things progressed with the usual renewals and event requests, and then we finally got to the reason why the chamber was filled to standing room only.The state recently acted on changes to the liquor laws (HB 1021). By now you probably know the legal DUI standard was reduced from .10 to .08. Additionally, they passed a new “cork and go” law and also made it possible for liquor stores to have wine tastings, provided the local government acts to authorize them. The “cork and go” law is the one that will pose the most problems for the community because it’s in direct conflict with our open container laws that prohibit the transporting of open bottles of beer, wines and spirits in public. Technically, that means once a bottle of wine is opened in your house, you are not legally allowed to put the cork back in and take it across the street to your neighbors.But now they come along with a new law that allows you to take an unfinished bottle of wine from a restaurant to your home or wherever. The wherever is also interesting in that we have so many tourists here who might think it’s OK to take that bottle back to their hotel when in fact they cannot if their hotel has a liquor license. We all know how that goes from years of events where you can’t buy a beer from the street vendor and take it into a licensed bar.So now we have a dilemma. A Vail police officer sees a guy walking down the street with a bottle of wine that clearly has had the cork removed and replaced. Up until a few weeks ago, it was simple. Take him away. Now the question becomes did he or didn’t he buy it at a restaurant and simply pack it up as he paid his bill? If that was the case, he’s good to go. But do we have to stop every innocent party to make that determination?Well, the Colorado Restaurant Association has come up with some ideas for the restaurants, provided they haven’t laughed themselves to death before they finish reading. Here they are: put the cork back down even with the lip of the bottle (let me know how you do with that, since I know I’d have to get the hammer out); seal the top of the bottle with tape or paraffin (do you think they really mean paraffin, like in wax that’s hot?); put the bottle in a bag or a box; seal the bag or box with staples or tape; advise the customer about open container laws; advise them to put the wine in the trunk of the car. (If they don’t have a car, should they rent one?)Well, I don’t know about you, but I got exhausted just reading that. And all from the guys who were the proponents of this legislation. So what’s the real solution going to be? The restaurants will meet on July 26 at 4 at Los Amigos for margaritas and to discuss this new legislation and some easy ways of addressing it. One thing is for sure, nothing can be as complicated as what’s been suggested so far. The liquor store wine tastings first depend on passage of a new town ordinance. I’ll keep you posted. And last but certainly not least, I also went to Middle Creek’s topping-off party. Everything’s on schedule and looking terrific. Sure beats where I lived in my early ski bum days in Sun Valley.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.