Vail delays vote on conference center funds
VAIL – A remodeled Dobson Ice Arena? A rec center? Or an IMAX theater?Those were some of the wide-ranging suggestions offered up on how to use the $8.2 million that was collected for the ill-fated Vail conference center.The town has narrowed down the ideas to a few themes, including remodeling Dobson, renovating the golf course clubhouse or marketing Vail or special events.Voters would have to approve the use of the funds. The town was planning to bring a question to voters in November, but now it looks like that vote will wait until November 2007.In April, the Town Council said the town should hold off on trying to get a question on the ballot this year.”It’s definitely not going to happen this year,” Councilman Greg Moffet said. “I was worried that we’d be in such a frenzy to spend this money that we’d be something stupid or frivolous.”
In March and April, the town gathered ideas from different parts of the community, including lodging workers, neighborhood groups, retail and restaurant workers and chambers of commerce officials. People could also submit ideas online.The town has decided the money should be used for something that increases visitors and economic health.
“It would have been extremely tough to get something together and have a reasonable campaign,” Town Manager Stan Zemler said. “There’s no sense in rushing it here.”Interest generated by the fund is about $300,000 a year, said Judy Camp, the town’s finance director.In November, voters soundly defeated a ballot question that sought to raise taxes for a conference center that would have been built between Dobson Ice Arena and the Lionshead parking garage. Voters had already approved taxes in 2002 to raise money for a center, but those taxes were deemed insufficient. The defeat of the ballot question rescinded the 2002 taxes and killed the center proposal.Moffet said he’d prefer to see the funds used for a capital expense, rather than for something like marketing.”Using it to market Vail is not a good idea,” he said.
The town has some other plans in the works that could affect the use of the conference center money. A recreation plan will be finished later this year, and a “community visioning plan” is in the works. Even the Lionshead parking structure redevelopment and the Crossroads vote could affect the process.To see ideas submitted to the town for the use of the $8.2 million conference center fund, go to http://ci.vail.co.us/subpage.asp?page_id=719Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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