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Vail lurches forward

Don Rogers

Things in Vail are moving along. Middle Creek, the long-needed affordable housing apartment complex, is finally getting built. Donovan is done, and very popular at both the park and the pavilion, despite best efforts of critics to make an albatross out of the “world-class” construction. It’s already an obvious winner.

Vail’s Front Door face-lift in Vail Village is seeing daylight in the review process, though construction might not come until 2005. VR says a key Forest Service land trade will slow the start of building. A more cynical view would suggest the ski company could use more cash flow, whether from Front Rangers or an overdue uptick in those fly-in skiers.

The course is likewise set for Lionshead’s renovation. Parking would be solved, if Vail could concentrate on a long-term solution and not get carried away with stamping out Frontage Road parking this very instant – a “problem” that’s not even that.

Oh, we know, we know. The parking is dangerous – even though no one has gotten hurt. (Can you say that about the mountain?) Inconvenient – which one or two extra shuttles could easily handle. Scares shopping village customers away – oh baloney. It is at least free.

The town has streetscape on tap, which is fine other than squandering a few million on a snowmelt system that is unnecessary. Think West Vail Fire Station before the luxuries. Priorities, sheesh. If citizens needed a clue about remaining budgetary fat, snowmelt ought to provide that big flashing light. That is, if this lemming-like drive to “solve” the horrors of Frontage Road parking with mats or artificial turf atop Ford Park hasn’t gotten there first.

Imagine, if that energy went into something truly productive, like, say, getting a conference center up and running? Take care Avon doesn’t wind up beating you to the punch and giving Vailites another reason to rue for years to come.

Ah, but it’s a great town, even if relying on the wrong tax strategy for its best future. Hint: The sales tax engine does require more, more, more business as fuel – and instability, frankly, is riding shotgun. It’s not so much a golden goose as an addiction to diminishing returns. Vail would be a healthier entity for more balance between the current sky high sales tax and lowest property tax rate to be found in the High Country.

Still, even so, the town is trundling forward, and that’s a good sign even if the town visionaries for the moment don’t appear particularly visionary and at least some of the merchants seem downright lost. An irony is that big awful gorilla of a ski company is still doing the heavy lifting to improve the town. Thank God for that much.

D.R.


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