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Vail Daily Letters: Honor our commitments

Vail Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

Tonight, in its last act as a sitting body, the Vail Town Council will finally vote on the future of the Lionshead parking structure. For nearly four years, the final decision on this project has hung in precarious balance between the wishes of the community, the commitments made to the developer, the politics of Vail and, of course, the control of Vail Resorts.

Mark Masinter, representing a partnership between Open Hospitality Partners and Hillwood Capital, approached the town with the prospect of redeveloping the 6-plus-acre Lionshead parking structure site. After an open and competitive process and endless discussion with input from all segments of the community, a parking facility in need of significant repair was to be replaced with 2,100-plus new parking spaces, two boutique hotels, much need-ed conference and meeting facilities, community ameni-ties, as well as upscale shopping and dining venues. But complicating the discussion was a deed restriction placed on the property by Vail Resorts when they donated the then-vacant land to the town for park-ing. But, as Vail Resorts seemed to embrace the project, the process moved forward.

In November 2007, the previ-ous Town Council gave the final OK to the project during its last formal meeting. However, with the swearing in of a new council (the present one) things began to unravel. New demands were made. New conditions were required. Essentially, all of the commitments of the previous council were disregarded. And Vail Resorts began to waffle. Yet, through it all, the developer behaved like a gentleman. He negotiated in good faith with the new political forces. He bent over backwards to accommodate whatever came his way.

At meeting after meeting, the public came forward in support. At meeting after meeting, the devel-oper acquiesced to the requests made. And at meeting after meet-ing, the town officials continued to up the ante. And behind the scenes, Vail Resorts dug its heels in, using the release of the deed restriction as leverage to get sup-port for its favorite projects.

So what’s at stake tonight? Per-haps our integrity. We have an opportunity to provide the devel-oper with an option to develop the Lionshead parking structure at some future date. It’s a chance for the town to give Mark Masin-ter the option at such time as the town decides to move forward with developing this town-owned parcel and the linchpin, Vail Resorts, decides to play nice, partner with the community and lift the deed restriction. And here, perhaps, lies the most important reason to enter into an agreement with Mark Masinter – because in the absence of such an agree-ment, the very real probability exists that Vail Resorts will hold out until it is the only one left to develop this very important piece of real estate.

Mark Masinter has proven to this community that he has the proper vision and ability to remake this very visible and important site. He has also made a very fair offer to the town for the five-year option agreement. Once Vail Resorts terminates the deed restriction, he will pay the town of Vail $500,000. In addition, he will pay the town of Vail an additional $100,000 every six months. He will also reimburse the town for any unamortized improvements that are made to the garage between now and the time the redevelop-ment begins, and lastly, he is will-ing to give the town reasonable options to terminate this agree-ment in the future. Now, how fair is that?

Members of the Town Council and members of the community, this is a chance to honor commit-ments to the developer who has acted honorably in his dealings with the town. It’s time for us to act honorably in return. We have an opportunity to keep our word and let the process proceed – not because of the time involved as some have suggested or because of the money invested as others have said. We should live up to our commitments because it’s the right thing to do.

Lanell Avery, Phil Long, Tom Braun, Clark Mercer Jr., Pete Brill, Linda Miner, Michael Byram, Greg Moffet, Rick Colomitz, Tim Moffet, Stan Cope, Matt Morgan, Scott Cross, Ed O’Brien, Sean Cross, Jackie Ogden, Chip Domke, Marc Prisant, Karl Edgerton, Chris Romer, David Ferguson, Michael Routh, Doug Johnson, Tyra Rudrud, Kaye Ferry, Ann Smead, Frank Johnson, Ted Steers, Josh Lautenberg, David White, Bob Lazier, Jennifer White, Rob LeVine, Joni White Taylor, Kelly Liken, Astrid Carraro, Jean Mitchell, Gil Fancher, Peter Rudrud, Enid Nilsson, John Nilsson, Julie Retzlaff


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