Vail opens up to residents at annual town meeting
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – From clearing up some of the mysterious acronyms used within the town of Vail to showing the community what the various town departments do, the Vail community meeting Tuesday night was all about transparency.
The town couldn’t show the community everything at the two-hour event, but it tried to give the packed house at Donovan Pavilion a quick overview of the town’s most pressing issues. Mayor Dick Cleveland outlined those issues as the town’s budget, capital projects, economic vitality, guest services, attracting more destination guests, taking over the Frontage Roads from the Colorado Department of Transportation and, of course, parking.
Cleveland filled guests in on what the town is planning. There’s a Ford Park master plan in the works, a Lionshead parking structure study, a study on how feasible it would be for the town to take over the Frontage Roads – something the town isn’t quite sure about yet – among various other reports and studies in the works.
Community members had several questions for the town, including why it would even want the Frontage Roads and “what’s going on with Ever Vail,” asked one woman.
The town couldn’t talk about the Ever Vail topic because it’s an active application, Cleveland said.
Another Vail resident asked whether the town and Vail Resorts were in good shape so far for 2010.
The town, reporting only January results, is about 2.5 percent down in sales tax collections from last year and 1 percent down from budget – a reasonable start to the year, said Vail Finance Director Judy Camp.
Chris Jarnot, Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer, said the public company can’t reveal that kind of information until its earnings calls with shareholders, which happens Wednesday morning.
Some people didn’t ask questions, but rather gave suggestions instead. One man told Cleveland the town should look to its people and business owners more often for input, rather than one annual meeting for such feedback.
Some points were more light-hearted – “Is the town and Vail Resorts working to have a celebration in town for our Olympic athletes,” asked one man.
Cleveland spoke at length about what the town is proud of at the moment, especially regarding the town’s “Billion Dollar Renewal.”
“We were an aging community and we looked like it,” he said. “The decision was made to address that. … Our timing was perfect.”
He said with the final three projects opening this year – Solaris, the Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton – Vail is “well-positioned, when the economy rebounds, to respond.”
He compared today’s economy to that of 2005, and said the town is also trying to bring its ski resort ranking back to No. 1.
“We need to become a resort again,” Cleveland said. “We rely on guests coming here and spending the night, not on redevelopment and real estate.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at email@example.com.