Vail council race: Foley fights government
VAIL ” Everybody knows Kevin Foley. At least that’s how it seems when he walks around Lionshead.
A restaurant owner wants to know about the town’s sign rules. The cashier at the French Deli wants to know about the town’s parking prices this year. A bartender, a construction worker and a code-enforcement officer want to talk about ” what else? ” the Rockies.
That’s what happens, Foley said, when you’ve lived here for 28 years.
“I like interacting with my community,” said Foley, who lives and works in Lionshead. “I’m hearing the truth from people.”
He’s more at home here than he is in the “little white castle” on the frontage road, he said, referring to Town Hall, where he serves on Town Council.
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In fact, Foley has an innate distrust of politicians, he said, even though he’s been one for the last two years, and is seeking another four-year term. He was also a Vail councilman from 1995-2001.
“The only way to fight them is from within,” he said.
In 1976, a couple of musicians from Vail visited the restaurant where Foley was working in his hometown of Worcester, Mass..
“These guys told me I was wasting my life in Worcester and should be in Vail,” he said. “It wasn’t until three years later that I got smart and came to Vail. I haven’t looked back.”
Foley arrived in 1979, and worked as a bartender at Frasier’s, a bar at the base of the gondola. He liked Vail immediately, he said.
“‘Coming home to a place you’ve never been.’ (John Denver) hit it right on the head,” Foley said.
In later years, he worked as a manager the Cookshack restaurant on Vail Mountain, as a manager at the Red Lion and as a waiter and manager at Montauk. For the last six years, he’s been resident manager of the Lifthouse condominiums.
“I think I bring the perspective that a lot of people are missing ” I punch a clock every day,” he said.
He’s also a basketball coach at Red Sandstone Elementary School.
“It’s probably the best thing I do in my life” ” besides spending time with his nephew and niece, he said. He enjoys snowshoeing on the North Trail and skiing, too, he said.
Foley says he’s not afraid to speak his mind and be independent, and his tenure on council backs that up. He’s often the only dissenting vote on council.
He’s the only councilman who voted against an agreement with a developer to renovate the Lionshead parking garage. The town needs to see how all the currently approved projects turn out before it approves that project, he said.
And his opinions about Ever Vail, the new ski village planned for West Lionshead, are nothing if not pointed.
“The only people that need Ever Vail are the shareholders of Vail Resorts,” he said.
The No. 1 issue facing Vail is the ability to get good workers, he said.
“I don’t think there’s one restaurant in town that’s fully staffed,” he said.
The town needs to do a better job of identifying land where employee housing can be built, he said.
The need for employees become more pressing because of developments outside Vail ” such as the private ski resort planned near Minturn and Magnus Lindholm’s planned project in Avon ” that will need a lot of workers, he said.
Foley said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about Vail’s ongoing spurt of building, dubbed its “renaissance.”
“Getting there has been painful,” he said.
Foley’s home and workplace are in the center of Lionshead, adjacent to the large Arrabelle at Vail Square, which has been under construction for two years.
The town needs to make sure developers “pay their way” for the impacts they make ” including things like employee housing and traffic, he said.
Foley voted against the controversial Crossroads project that was later approved by voters. He didn’t think the town was getting enough employee housing, and that the ceilings were too tall.
People should vote for him because he’s not afraid to shy away from the tough questions, he said.
“I’m a guy that will look at them and ask the questions, and might not like the answers, but will at least say, ‘Hey, why is this being done that way?'” he said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.