Vail considers sites for new Ford Park building
VAIL — In a park that was initially preserved as town of Vail open space, the potential site of another building within Ford Park is a touchy subject.
The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens seeks to build an educational center in Ford Park, but the council agreed in March that the discussions were premature since the town needed to review the 1985 Ford Park Master Plan and 1997 Ford Park Management Plan. The town had made amendments to those documents in 2012 that paved the way for Ford Park improvements, including the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens education center, but withdrew those amendments citing a need for further review.
Part of that review process was discussed Tuesday afternoon when council members looked at five sites where such an education center would be appropriate within the park. After listening to the town’s Community Development Department staff, the choices were whittled down to two sites.
One site, located near the soccer fields, has potential covenant limitations which could present a challenge. Staff said they’d study it further.
The other site is the current tennis center site, where a building already exists that currently houses the Vail Recreation District offices. The question of whether the Alpine Gardens could expand on that building or even take it over came up in council members’ discussions.
“Is this the time to tell the Rec District to move,” asked Councilwoman Margaret Rogers, adding that offices at Ford Park are only to be for ancillary uses.
The Vail Recreation District does have a lease for the tennis center building, which is something Community Development Director George Ruther said would need to be kept in mind. He said the tennis center option is new and there have not been any in-depth conversations between the Alpine Gardens, the Vail Recreation District and the town about the site yet.
The location works but it would obviously need to be worked out with the district, said Nicola Ripley, Alpine Gardens executive director.
“It’s not our place to move in on the Rec District,” Ripley said. “You can see the difficulties we’ve got in trying to find a good location. We’re open to most options and trying to work something out with other users in the park.”
Ruther said his department would come back to the council in a month with more details about the two potential sites such as costs, input from adjacent property owners and feedback from the Recreation District. That input will be a part of a larger discussion regarding the future of Ford Park.
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