Vail library renovation starts in April
VAIL, Colorado – Vail’s library is set for some major upgrades over the next few months.
The Vail Town Council Tuesday approved another $350,000 for the project, which has already seen costs increase beyond the original estimates. The money – along with the money originally budgeted for the project – will come from a “tax increment financing” fund that uses property taxes from new housing units at Lionshead built over the last several years.
Town public works director Greg Hall Tuesday told the council that the project was ready to go, except for the budget.
“Bids came in significantly higher than we expected,” Hall said. Since he’d been charged with bringing the project in on budget, Hall said he, the general contractor and others involved did a lot of “value engineering” to get the costs down. But the result, ultimately, wasn’t good he said, and not keeping with the image Vail likes to project.
“It would look cheapened,” Hall said.
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Town Manager Stan Zemler told council members he was satisfied that Hall and the renovation team had done their best to wring as much savings out of the project as possible.
“I told them to stop cheaping it out – the money’s there,” Zemler said. Responding to a question from Mayor Andy Daly about the possible effects of delaying the project, Zemler said it the council didn’t free up the cash now, it could be another several years before the town would be able to take on the renovation again.
Tuesday’s meeting brought out several residents who urged the council to find, and spend, the extra money.
Former Mayor Dick Cleveland was one of those people.
“I’ve been disappointed at the piecemeal way (the project) has evolved and costs have risen,” Cleveland said. But, he added, “…This is an invaluable asset to this community. I use it constantly, and lighting is horrendous.”
Judy Gold, a concierge at the Arrabelle, said she’s been a loyal patron since the library was completed in 1983. She said she also refers guests to the library many times a week.
“I can’t tell you how often I send families over to children’s hour,” Gold said. “And people come back talking about how beautiful it is.”
Jonathan Staufer has used the Vail Library virtually his entire life, and told the council that for what’s been spent on the facility, “it’s a relative bargain.”
Council members didn’t really question the need for the additional money – the request was approved unanimously, and without much discussion on their part. But there were several questions about how the library would operate during the renovation project.
Hall said a kind of mini-library will be set up at Dobson Ice Arena, and a part of the book collection will be moved to the old Plum TV space on Meadow Drive in Vail Village.
And, while council members questioned starting work April 1, with two weeks left in the ski season, Hall said the early start would have the library operating again by the July 4 holiday weekend.
Jim Lamont, the director of the Vail Homeowners Association, lives just down the street from the library, and is also a longtime user.
“For architectural historians, this is one of the most representative buildings of the philosophy of the community,” Lamont said. “Just as a historical restoration project… it symbolizes the wedding of our natural environment with intellectual pursuits. … If they need double what they’re asking for, it’s worth it – as a symbol of the community.”