Vail Daily letters to the editor
Vail, CO, Colorado
Need to support district tax hike
The superintendent of Eagle County Schools was recently quoted in an article saying: “If we put it on the ballot and the public says no, they should know that we’ll do what we need to do. … We’re prepared to live within the budget the voters say we should have.”
I bet Eagle County Schools could cut the budget back further. The problem is that the cuts will increase the students in each class, lower graduation rates, cut electives, have less support for students, which will result in worse test scores.
Eagle County Schools seems to be one of the few districts in the state that is actually increasing test scores for the gifted students while increasing scores for kids in poverty even faster. There is a reason for that. The support our kids receive is monumental.
Look at it this way: The difference in K-12 per-pupil funding for Colorado schools in 1982 was a more than $150 per student compared to the national average. In 2008, the difference in K-12 per-pupil funding for Colorado schools compared to the national average was minus-$1,809 per student.
And it continues to drop each year. We need to continue to support education in this country and county.
In a time when a great number of people are out of work and looking for jobs, a company looking for “professional” people needs to be professional, too.
What do I mean by that? What happen to professionalism and courtesy, actually calling or emailing the applicants back and telling them if they have a job or not?
So many people hanging on that one phone call waiting to hear the outcome of their interview. “Have you heard anything yet?” “I keep getting their voicemail.” … “They are out of the office” …
Really? Not only is it unprofessional, it’s rude and unsympathetic. Employers need to understand this is a very stressful time for many many people and show some kind of empathy.
Next time you interview someone, put yourself in their shoes, and make time to show some courtesy and professionalism.
Eagle River Station makes no sense
The newly revised Eagle River Station proposed development, as it stands now, is huge and will forever change the character of the town of Eagle. I don’t think proponents of this development could successfully argue against that statement.
There are plenty of facts available and many letters written talking about the proposed commercial and residential square feet, building heights, number of parking spaces, etc.
Honestly, my eyes tend to glaze over a bit. The figures are really hard to envision. What really helped me visualize what is being proposed for Eagle was for me to stand on top of my car, in the middle of the parking lot in Denver, looking at a similar-sized commercial development. I really tried to imagine the incredible enormity of what I was looking at, trying to picture this massive thing sitting on that 80-acre parcel just east of Chambers Avenue.
The only words that came to my mind were “They can’t be serious!” There is the question of whether this is a wise business venture in this market, at this time, when the economy is shaky by anyone’s definition. But it is certainly the right of the developers to make their own judgment on that and to take their own risk.
However, we are taking an aesthetic risk. It is up to the people of Eagle to decide how they want the character of their town to look in the future and to also consider what the ramifications might be if this development becomes successful. Do we really want a mega center in Eagle?
One also has to think about what we would be left with if it fails and a large quantity of two- to four-story buildings stand vacant along a sea of asphalt.
Personally, I feel there are already more than enough big box stores within a 40-minute drive of my house. While it is an extremely decadent and a uniquely American privilege to be able to save a few pennies by buying bulk toilet paper in a package that barely fits into my car, I would rather spend a little extra money and shop in a real town that has a little more character, while supporting my neighbors’ and friends’ businesses.
I don’t want Eagle to feel like any number of look-alike, sprawling American cities. We live in a town and county that is based on tourism. The appeal to resort towns is that they attract people from other areas who are looking for something unique.
I can’t ever remember thinking while shopping on Nantucket, as an example, “You know, what this island really needs is a big box center.” The things that are appealing about resort areas and make people want to visit them are the same things that make people want to live there.
I certainly appreciate the fact that I can now buy groceries in Eagle seven days a week and gas 24 hours a day, so I am aware that some change and development is good, but it should be at a realistic pace in accordance to the desires of the people that live here.
Anytime there is a development proposal that alarms a significant proportion of the population of local residents, I feel it is the town leaders’ duty to address these concerns, no matter what rights a developer may have.
ERS was already voted down by the voters of Eagle. And, I am willing to bet that if the people who live around the town of Eagle (the ones that are impacted by this proposal yet are not allowed to vote due to the fact that they don’t live directly in the city limits) were able to influence the outcome of this proposed development, ERS wouldn’t stand a chance. Many of those people are longtime valley residents. Many are local business owners. In fact, I don’t know one person that would vote yes.
Change and development are inevitable parts of our lives. Ideally they should be in conjunction with the majority of the residents wishes. Anytime a proposed development faces strong opposition and then comes back a few years later, with an even bigger proposal, my suspicions about various hidden agendas become aroused. If these people really care about the future of Eagle as they profess, then why wouldn’t they care about what people think that live in and around the surrounding area? And, why isn’t the “no” vote being upheld?
Now, add in the fact that Tom Boni, who was the planner for RED Development for the three years ERS was going through its proposal process, is now the planner for the town of Eagle. If that doesn’t raise a huge red flag to many, I would truly be surprised.
Mr. Boni should have immediately excused himself from anything to do with ERS. To believe he could be unbiased in any of his recommendations seems very unrealistic to me. What is even more inconceivable is that the leaders of the town of Eagle haven’t forced him to absolve himself from these proceedings.
Eagle’s town leaders have made more than a few questionable decisions in the past and I see no sign of any of that changing. It is time for the citizens of Eagle to wake up and pay very close attention to the direction this town is heading and offer some input as to how and why decisions are being made against the will of so many people.
ERS makes no sense
I read with interest Paul Witt of Trinity RED Development’s clarification of the phasing of the proposed Eagle River Station in Eagle. However, rather than feeling better about the issue after this clarification, I have become more uncomfortable with what is being proposed.
Mr. Witt has written that the first phase of the project will be comprised of “582,500 square feet of retail space and 250 rental housing units.” I think there is little comment necessary on the issue of adding this much retail space to an area that is already incapable of filling a fraction of the commercial spaces currently available for lease in the Eagle area — a factor that has driven existing rental rates below financially acceptable levels. I am even more disturbed about Mr. Witt’s somewhat matter-of-fact proposal for “only” 250 more rental housing units in the first phase of development.
In the same issue (Sept. 29) of the Vail Daily that carried Mr. Witt’s letter to the editor to which I am referring, the headline was “Local rental market eases.” The article by Randy Wyrick stated that the Eagle Valley vacancy rate for June stood at 28 percent — “higher than any historical vacancy rate for the month.” It further states that there have been 6,000 jobs lost to the Eagle Valley over the last several years.
Real structural damage has been done to our population base and it’s going to take a long, long time to recover. This damage has far reaching effects on our local economy and its ability to absorb even what currently exists.
This is certainly obvious to me as the owner of rental property in the Eagle area. Three years ago, I received a monthly rental check for this property that was 45 percent higher than I am getting now, and I am certainly not alone.
It is highly doubtful that there will be a quick recovery. As Don Cohen, head of the Economic Council of Eagle County, was quoted in the article, “Even if the market caught fire and returned to the growth pace of the mid-2000s, it would take 10 years to replace those jobs. … It’s difficult to find any scenario upon which that kind of robust economic growth could springboard from.”
I have always been curious as to what market research Trinity RED Development is relying on in their quest to spur this development forward. I cannot remotely conceive of a local demand for commercial and residential units that would fill even the first phase of this proposed project in the foreseeable (or even distant future).
Over a 40-year practice in the in commercial and residential real estate in the Vail Valley, I have learned the that concept of “Build it and they will come” only works in the movies. Sustainable real estate development only works if it is created to fill demand.
Without basic structural demand for the product, you will have nothing but empty storefronts and uneconomical rental rates as an over supply competes for a limited user base. What is being proposed here is a project that would be hard pressed to fill the needs of a community five to 10 times the size of the Eagle Valley.
To me, Eagle River Station is way beyond any form of financial practicality and I am scratching my head as to how it can be rational to waste any more time considering this proposal.
Chlouber for CMC board
Electing a representative to the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees is one of the local ballot choices in the upcoming election. I am supporting Pat Chlouber for that position. Pat is a 35-year resident of the CMC district. She knows the district, its people, desires and challenges. Her entire career has been in the academic arena.
Pat taught in the Lake County School District for 20 years. She also served on and was president of the Lake County School Board. Pat was subsequently elected and served on the state Board of Education, a board that has oversight over all 178 public school districts in Colorado. In 2001 Pat was appointed representative for Region 8 U.S. Department of Education, where she served as liaison for community outreach and as an adviser to state and local policy makers in six Western states. Pat Chlouber’s knowledge and vision, coupled with her academic and leadership experience, will prove to be an invaluable asset to Colorado Mountain College.
Her established and long-standing commitment to education and rural communities will bring an experienced and caring voice to the Board of Trustees. I believe Pat Chlouber is an excellent choice to serve on the CMC Board and urge everyone to support her candidacy.