Vail Daily letters to the editor
Vail, CO, Colorado
Wrong about Obama?
I voted for Barack Obama. I was certain nobody could be more damaging to the United States then George Bush. I fear I was wrong.
In President Obama’s recent message and in the budget he is presenting to Congress and in the already passed ” though never read ” stimulus bill, there is so much to be concerned about as citizens of the USA, we should all be engaged and seeking as much information as possible to understand just what he is doing to our country.
In particular, I urge each of you to consider these recent items:
1. Last week, the president adamantly noted he would never allow a bill to be passed with earmarks. This “translucent” government we’ve been promised proceeded, the very next day, to pass legislation with more than 8,000 earmarks in it.
2. In his presented budget, one in which he concentrates efforts on education and health, he has also proposed the elimination of tax deductibility to charitable organizations from those with incomes more than $250,000. So when the hoards of nonprofits go out of business because the majority of gifts come from those in that tax bracket, when all of those people working in the nonprofit sector lose their jobs, when the good work they do in securing private funds to assist in educational pursuits, adding wings and equipment to hospitals, providing food for the poor … who now does that needed work? The taxpayer through greater taxes down the road?
America is great because we believe in ourselves. We depend on ourselves, and we step up to the plate over and over to right wrongs. In the America that President Obama is creating, those values no longer hold merit. Government will take care of us. Do you believe in government’s ability to solve the problems of our country? Please ” voice your concerns to our elected officials. Don’t be content to listen to the nightly news and believe all is fine. Research what is being proposed, and if you, as I do, find the steps the president is taking as frightening for our future, voice your fears and thoughts to your congressman, your senators and your president. As he states over and over, he works for us. I promise you, what he is doing now does not represent what I believe in. I hope it does not represent what you believe in, either.
Unsatisfied with wireless in Vail
The town of Vail, together with Vail Resorts, needs to re-examine whatever arrangement or contract they have with CenturyTel.
First, its signal annoyingly dominates the Vail resort area as the default WiFi source and cannot easily be deleted, but it is also a relatively weak signal, depending on one’s specific location.
Second, it offers only one free hour of service per 24-hour period.
Third, its fees are ridiculous at $9.95 a day, $29.95 a month and $300 a year.
Fourth, signing up is cumbersome, even for the free one-hour option.
Fifth, and this is quite bothersome to me, it requires free-service customers not only to provide name, address and phone but to include other information that is private and none of the company’s business: age, income level, marital status, purpose of Vail trip, etc.
It appears that neither the town of Vail nor Vail Resorts is aware or may not care about this Vail WiFi “service” that does carry their name. I called the town’s IT lead last week, and he politely said that he’d raise the issue. I also rode on a chairlift a few days ago with Vail Resort’s IT czar and told him of my concerns. I asked him if he and the town’s IT lead ever talked or met about the area’s WiFi or IT issues. No!
I am from the D.C. area and have been coming to Vail for two or more weeks at a time annually for more than 25 years and do not have WiFi built into my laptop or iPod. Yes, I can pick up free signals from some hotels and merchants at Vail, but it’s not always convenient to do so.
My condo landlord is a thrifty one and also cutting back services during these hard times.
Are there others out there with a similar beef, or am I it? I do ask that the powers that be look into this and take appropriate corrective action.
Robert Kramer Potomac, Md.
Don’t develop structure
I have been a property owner in Vail for more than 30 years and have cherished the beautiful mountain ambience provided by the landscaped south side of the Vail Village parking structure (plentiful trees, flowers in the summer and lush vegetation). This is one of our main entrances to the village, provides a buffer to the traffic on Interstate 70 and the parking structure and gives our village, at its entrance, the mountain-resort feeling that all of us treasure so much.
Now, Triumph Development, of Bethesda, Md., asks our Town Council to effectively destroy this precious green area by giving it to the developer for private development. This attempt should be soundly rejected, and our council should stand up now to preserve and protect this precious green space.
The Vail master plan mandates in Goal 4 of fundamental goals and commitments to “preserve existing open space areas and expand green space opportunities” and “improve existing open space areas and create new plazas with green space and pocket parks” and states that “existing natural open space areas … throughout Vail Village and existing green spaces shall be preserved as open space.”
The master plan was designed to preserve what is special about Vail, and we all have relied and depended on it. Does it mean something, or is it just a promise to be broken? Our Town Council must honor this long-term commitment to preserve and protect our precious green areas.
A January Vail Daily article said, “Vail to turn greener.” Is this true or not? Can a smooth-talking developer talk the council into rejecting its long-term commitment to preserve this green, landscaped area and, instead, turn East Meadow Drive into a narrow, urbanized, concrete canyon?
The proposed development would cause multiple negative impacts on our village by destroying one of our most precious green areas and by cheapening, commercializing and urbanizing this entryway to the village and making it look like any other ordinary urban area, to say nothing of usurping critical parts of the parking structure that may ultimately be needed for other public purposes.
Our council should reject this developer’s attempt to destroy this beautiful, green, mountain ambience. Of course, developers salivate over getting their hands on this public land. Don’t let them do it!
Tad Smith El Paso, Texas
Keep Vail green
We’ve lived in Vail for 23 years.
We formerly lived in the canyons of New York City, where buildings are in very close proximity to adjacent buildings with little or no green space between them. That’s one of the reasons we moved here! Open space!
We are disappointed that the Vail Planning Commission voted to take away the green space on the south side of the parking structure for private development. We now appeal to the Vail Town Council to deny this modification to the transportation center and parking structure.
Many of our guests come from metropolitan areas, and part of Vail’s appeal and charm is that we are a small town. When these guests walk around, they see space and sky, not building after building so close to one another that we resemble an urban area.
Open space is a valuable commodity. Once gone, it’s gone.
Having passed the Planning Commission 3-2, we hope the Town Council will vote down this project. Having green space is important to our guests and to us.
Vail also has been a construction zone for many years. This was a necessity to maintain our position as a world-class resort. When current projects are completed, let’s have a change of scenery and get rid of construction cranes. Vail residents, let the council hear your voice (townncouncil@
vailgov.com) or be at the council meeting on Tuesday when this subject comes up for a vote.
The questions to be considered are: Do we really need another construction zone, should the original intent for this land be changed, should any changes be made by amending the master plan or by public vote, and do we want to lose this open green space?
Don’t urbanize Vail!
Werner and Gilda Kaplan Vail
Group meetings vital
Meetings, events and performance incentive travel in the United States are responsible for almost 15 percent of all domestic travel, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Meetings and events spending in 2007 in Colorado alone made up more than $1.805 million in economic impact to our state. Recent media coverage has created broad negative perceptions about the groups and meetings industry and is compelling companies to reduce or cancel events as a result.
The U.S. Travel Association cites an upcoming survey of meeting planners that 26 percent of meeting planners have cut back because of the groundswell of negative perception, and USA Today recently reported that the meeting and event industry is down by about 35 percent.
The overheated rhetoric from a small handful of elected officials in Washington is affecting local economies across the nation, including ours.
The Vail Valley Partnership, as the group-sales representative for the Vail Valley, is taking aggressive action to attract groups and meetings to visit our area. Our group-sales team represents the community at a number of trade shows and client events throughout the country.
We host many meeting planners on familiarization tours of our resorts. We work with national sales representatives in key markets to ensure that the event and meeting industry and meeting planners are aware of the Vail Valley as a meeting location.
We are seeing positive traction and year-over-year success from our actions. Group leads distributed to the lodging community increased in 2008 over 2007, and group leads distributed to date in 2009 are increasing over 2008. Groups booked so far in 2009 also have increased over prior years.
Our pipeline of future group business (for 2010 and beyond) is also out-producing prior years’ efforts. The Partnership has an increased focus on bringing participatory, community-based events to the valley in an effort to benefit the entire lodging and business community. Examples include the IronKids Triathlon (in partnership with the town of Avon), an Irish hurling tournament and festival (in partnership with the Vail Recreation District), a USA Judo national event and many other potential events.
This is in addition to our continued focus on corporate retreats, association meetings and incentive programs.
While the Partnership is seeing continued success, it makes up only a small part of the total group business to the Vail Valley. Our entire community depends upon the sales tax generated by meetings and events, and our entire community benefits from the meetings and events held throughout the valley. We encourage all business owners and citizens to call and write our elected officials and let them know that meetings mean business.
Chris Romer Director of sales and marketing, Vail Valley Partnership
Paul Witt, of Witt Communications, the public-relations firm retained by ERS developer Trinity-RED, recently attempted to address some of the “confusion and misconceptions about the project.” Mr. Witt’s job is to support his client’s project, so it isn’t surprising that his lack of full disclosure and unsubstantiated sales projections did little to clarify issues.
If Mr. Witt truly wants to address “misconceptions,” he should address Target anchoring the project after months to years of claims that ERS would provide unique shopping you’d have to drive to Denver to find.
Mr. Witt stated “regarding the public infrastructure cost and repayment, it’s important to understand that the $62 million for the new highway interchange and improvements to the town’s sewer, water and other streets will be repaid only with sales and property tax revenue generated by ERS.”
What Mr. Witt didn’t state is that the $62.5 million price tag is a requirement for ERS. Let’s be clear. A new highway interchange going from Interstate 70 to ERS primarily benefits ERS. Adding an estimated 24,000 daily vehicle trips will not ease existing traffic problems.
Likewise, the size and timing of other infrastructure improvements are required for ERS. Sure, Eagle needs infrastructure upgrades ” but not even close to what ERS demands.
Mr. Witt asserted, “Taxes paid by the residents of Eagle will not be increased to pay for these important infrastructure improvements.”
Mr. Witt’s prediction is troubling. No one knows if taxes will increase. Glenwood Meadows has an extra 1.5 percent tax dedicated to paying off infrastructure costs of $18 million. Recently, Glenwood City Councilman Russ Arensman, who served on that city’s planning commission when Glenwood Meadows was proposed, stated, “It will be interesting to see if we actually make enough revenue to pay back (the infrastructure costs).” Costs incurred must be paid, one way or another.
Mr. Witt stated, correctly, that sales tax generated by ERS would be used to finance the infrastructure required for this project. In fact, 100 percent of the 4 percent sales tax the town would otherwise collect is dedicated to the ERS Metro District, ERS being a for-profit enterprise.
Trinity-RED claims a private-public “partnership” is necessary for the project, but as proposed, that “partnership” dedicates 100 percent of the town’s sales tax to pay for required infrastructure while the developer retains 100 percent of the profits.
Trinity-RED’s representative has frequently stated the town is not responsible for the bonds. If, over the 25-year bond term, the town foregoes 100 percent of ERS generated sales tax revenue, how are we not responsible? What if, over the next 25 years, the town needs to borrow funds? And what if revenue projections are not correct?
Mr. Witt stated ERS would generate “more than $2.5 million a year.” Based on what ” full build-out, 95 percent occupancy? When, if ever, will that happen? Mr. Witt does not provide details, but remember: The 4 percent town sales tax goes directly to the ERS Metro District, not the town.
Perhaps Mr. Witt’s $2.5 million projection is based on the tax “increment” allocated to the town (about 1.4 percent). If so, ERS would need to generate sales of $178 million, and ERS Metro District collects $7.1 million. That’s a lot of “lifestyle” spending when unemployment is higher than 8 percent (highest in more than 25 years), the Dow Jones is around 6,500 (vs. 12,000 a year ago) and at of the end of 2008, a record 5.4 million homeowners with a mortgage (almost 12 percent) were at least one month late or in foreclosure.
Every day brings news of retail store closings, bankruptcies and consumers shopping less and buying only essential items. Many economists believe we are in the midst of a “wrenching restructuring of the American economy” where “the current pace of decline is breathtaking.”
Even if or when the economy fully recovers, Trinity-RED projects shoppers will drive more than 50 miles, well above average, and fails to adjust for the county’s high percentage of part-time residents and the fact that many of us allocate most discretionary spending to a ski-golf-outdoor lifestyle.
Let’s also remember: Throughout this process, we’ve been told ERS will be unique. The not-so-unique anchor, Target, already has two stores within that 50-mile drive.
It is time to put this project and the continuing “confusion and misconceptions” to rest. I urge the town trustees to reject this project, as the Planning and Zoning Commission already has twice. It is time to focus on realistic goals, existing business districts and local enterprises that have endured good times and bad. It is time to do what’s right for Eagle.