Vail Dail letter: Crossroads for Eagle-Vail
Eagle-Vail, CO, Colorado
Cruising for years: After years of neglect, Eagle-Vail now has to deal with many challenges. However, these are also opportunities. We can refine the community knowing its long-term position.
When it was created, Interstate 70 was a two-lane road over Vail Pass – no Beaver Creek, no Arrowhead, no Avon, no Bachelor Gulch.
Location and neighborhood: Eagle-Vail’s location is superb. It’s a neighborhood – not just second homes – of people who love being active in the mountains. It attracts friendly, unpretentious people.
Worn out and neglected: The recreational facilities are old and need to be replaced or repaired. The golf course and pool have been poorly managed and maintained. The golf course is important but faces challenges that affect many homes. It has to serve as a community resource while also acting as many people’s backyard and everyone’s open space. All these demands can be accommodated, but only with careful planning.
Focus on golf: For years, the golf course was the primary objective (to the Eagle-Vail Metro District) and the community was secondary. Now, the course needs both major operating and capital replacement subsidies from the Eagle-Vail residential community – golfers and non-golfers alike. So the course needs everyone’s support.
Leadership panic: Some board members have panicked in their efforts to preserve the golf course, build a new pool and replace other facilities. They have been afraid, inexperienced, or ill-prepared to make long-term plans. In the board’s haste to replace the pool and save face, a lot of time and money was wasted. The money was spent recklessly, like it was someone else’s money. Most residents accept that they will contribute financially, but they justly want to know the full price in advance. They resent the “Approve this new tax immediately (the sky is falling!)” presentations when, after these tax increases are approved, they are followed by “That last tax increase wasn’t enough, we need more money!” Residents fear that more taxes and fees are coming, but they don’t know how much. This creates suspicion and concern.
Acting before thinking: We’ve had some controversy. Many people have said, “Money needs to be reinvested in the community.” Others say, “Not so fast. If we spend our limited resources inefficiently, we will run out without getting the job done.” People are concerned that not everything proposed was fair and of broad benefit.
Solutions: A broader perspective is necessary. New leadership is essential. We need a comprehensive, long-term, financial and operational plan. There will be compromises, but if the process is fair and open the community will be supportive and harmonious. It is critical for the community to make prudent financial decisions so that it doesn’t collapse under an excessive financial burden.
Plan: We need to establish a budget. First, what is the appropriate permanent property tax mill levy? Then we must, as a community, prioritize programs and facilities. We probably can’t do it all. What yields the maximum benefit to the most residents on the most cost-effective basis? We then create a business plan to implement these choices. We work for widespread, fully informed community support. We execute carefully and professionally. Eagle-Vail’s architecture may never be top-notch, but the quality of our operations and community spirit can be. This will be a big change!
New leadership and broad consensus: We need dedicated people with a wide range of meaningful experience who are careful, sophisticated and committed to Eagle-Vail. Different priorities must be well represented (checks and balances), and the process must be open. This isn’t easy, but the results of doing it right will be worth it.
As in any real estate project, if the location is good (ours is great), doing the right thing prudently will work out in the long run. The only way to foul up a great location is to take on too much debt. Unfortunately, some metro board members want to incur debt to build new facilities, with the expectation that residents will have no choice later on but to approve even higher taxes to subsidize recreational operations.
We need to put Eagle-Vail on a new path, the right path for the long term.