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Vail Chamber president steps down

Geraldine Haldner

That doesn’t mean the owner of the Daily Grind, who by her own admission, “never really shied away from controversy if I knew it was for the right thing,” will be stepping out of sight.”I will still be on the (chamber’s) board, I’m just not going into the office three times a day and taking 75 phone calls a day,” she said Friday after announcing her resignation to her board colleagues.”This is Kaye’s moment; talk to her,” said Steve Rosenthal, owner of Colorado Footwear, who will be taking over as president of the Vail-based chamber.Ferry, who has lived in Vail for 15 years and for 12 of those has owned The Daily Grind, a coffee shop on Bridge Street, said her resignation coincides with her decision to close or sell her business and focus on other things in life.”I’m not leaving town. I just finished my home that I love. I’m just taking some time for myself. I’ll improve my golf game and go heli-skiing,” she said, adding that she will either find a new proprietor for The Daily Grind by the time her lease runs out next September or “just turn off the lights and turn the key and be a free woman.””I have a five-year (lease) option, so if anyone wants to buy it, it’s theirs. Otherwise, I’m dropping the key in the box.”With her exit from the ranks of Vail business owners, Ferry said, it makes sense for her to step aside as Vail’s foremost business advocate – a role she has tirelessly and passionately pursued with her own brand of leadership for the last 10 years.”I do everything at full-throttle. That’s the only way I know how to do things,” said Ferry, who made her share of friends and foes during her reign, first as the president of the Vail Merchants Association representing Vail Village businesses, and since 2000 as the president of the Vail Chamber & Business Association, a merged chamber representing more than 600 businesses all over town.She’s missed two chamber meetings in 10 years and probably fewer than a dozen Vail Town Council meetings. She has served on almost every board or task force ever created in town and said she can’t completely rule out serving on more sometime down the road.But for now, she said, her outspoken, opinionated and sometimes inflammatory brand of politicking will take a back seat and recline for a while.She is planning to travel to Panama with her mother, who turns 80, and beyond that will continue to teach ski school and look for other opportunities to apply her seemingly bottomless energy.Stepping down, Ferry said, is equally hard and liberating. She makes no secret of the fact that as an outspoken critic where she thought criticism was due, she filled her own gallery of critics, who accused her of putting herself before the business community’s needs.”It was a very challenging position to be in. Some days were very rewarding and some days were very frustrating, but I think the chamber has done what I set out to do,” she said, ticking off her biggest achievements: creating a merged chamber; establishing a customer-service training program; and lobbying for more employee housing in Vail.The issue of employee housing, she said, will hopefully be addressed, even if just partly, with the construction of Middle Creek, a 142-unit employee-housing project currently on appeal before the Vail Town Council.”I could make a new list – but I don’t want to make a new list,” she said. Somebody else should make a list.”The only disappointment, she said, is the ongoing rift between the town and the business community. Resorts where chambers, towns and ski companies work closely together tend to be the most vibrant and fast-charging, she said.”I think they listen, but they don’t always hear us,” she said. “I don’t think they know how important we are and how significant we are to the economy. There should be some level of respect that should be given to us.”Though she’ll continue to care for her community, Ferry said chances of her running for one of the five council seats next November are slim to none.”When you want things to change, you can’t be sitting at home in front of your TV set,” she said.After 10 years of Tuesdays spent in the council chambers, she said, the only way she would run is if another four Vail business owners step forward and join her in a block.”That’s the only way I’d run. I think I’m pretty safe,” she said.Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at ghaldner@vaildaily.com.


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