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Vail Town Council revisits priorities to kick off the year

After three months in role, Town Manager Russ Forrest is sharing what he’s heard from council, community stakeholders

After around three months as Vail's Town Manager, Russ Forrest will share with the Vail Town Council what he's heard from the community during a strategic planning session.
Scott Miller/Vail Daily

With a new year comes the opportunity to re-evaluate, reset and forge a path ahead. And on Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Vail Town Council is setting out to do just that with a strategic planning session during a morning board retreat.

The retreat will offer an opportunity to evaluate the year ahead as well as a chance to review its new Town Manager, Russ Forrest, who started in November.

“I’ve been drinking lots of coffee and had lots of lunches, but also want to take that opportunity to share what I’m hearing from others in the community and stakeholders on top priorities,” Forrest said of the meeting on Dec. 20.



In sharing his findings from these meetings, the goal of the retreat will be to identify the top three to five priorities as well as attempt to articulate them into “specific time-bound goals,” according to a memo for the meeting.

The town engaged in a similar strategic planning session last January, the result of which was an action plan for 2022 and 2023. This session will not replace this plan, but rather add and shift priorities where council sees fit.

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There are two main topics that Forrest said had “unanimous interest for prioritization” from council and stakeholders. This includes prioritizing excellent customer service and creating affordable housing.

The memo also outlines other priorities and topics that were identified by council members and Vail stakeholders. This includes prioritizing the future of the civic area and civic hub site as well as updating the Vail vision and brand.

The remaining items highlighted in the memo are looking at early childhood initiatives, the town’s land use code, its Steward Vail plan and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.



As many of the items contemplated would require significant capital investment, the packet also includes an analysis of the town’s debt capacity relating to four projects. The projects contemplated are the redevelopment of Timber Ridge, the development of West Middle Creek, the relocation and construction of the town’s offices and the Dobson Ice Arena renovation.

The memo holds the town and its reinvestment authority have the “capacity to fund a number of significant projects however funds and debt capacity is limited.” It adds that should the town finance all four, it would “meet its debt capacity limits and may not have the ability to use debt as a financing tool for the foreseeable future without new or additional revenue streams to bond from.”

But before council gets into discussing priorities, the first hour of Tuesday’s retreat will be dedicated to giving Forrest a review in executive session.

Following the Vail Town Council’s morning retreat, it will have its normal afternoon and evening meetings. To view the agendas or for information on how to participate and attend the meetings, visit VailGov.com.


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