Vail seeking a lot of public comment on new ‘civic area’ planning process |

Vail seeking a lot of public comment on new ‘civic area’ planning process

The town of Vail is seeking input from residents, employees and others about the future of this highlighted part of town that includes the town hall campus, Dobson Ice Arena, the Vail Public Library and the Lionhead Parking Structure.
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To learn more about participating in the Vail Civic Area Plan, go to People who register on the website can leave comments and feedback on any or all parts of the area.

VAIL — For years, Vail officials and residents have talked about what to do with about 10 acres of town-owned property including Town Hall, the Lionshead Village parking structure, Dobson Ice Arena and the Vail Public Library. Another effort has just begun.

Meeting in the town’s Grand View room Tuesday evening, several residents got a first look at the public portion of what’s being called the Vail Civic Area Plan. The point of the plan is to try to plot the future of the area.

This isn’t the first attempt.

Consultant Tom Braun noted that in the mid-1980s, the town looked at something called Congress Haus that included a conference center, among other amenities.

In the early 2000s, another effort was launched. Again, alternatives included a conference center and development atop the parking structure.

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Other ideas have included adding a branded hotel to the parking structure area. Town voters in the 2000s passed a lodging tax intended to build a conference center, but that project became too expensive, the tax was eliminated and the collected money used for projects including upgrades to Ford Park and the Vail Golf Club clubhouse.

The current effort has been bubbling for a few months at the staff and consultant level.

Drawing community together

Lou Bieker, of 4240 Architecture Group, talked about general ideas about what kind of focus the area should have.

“We have to try to meet the needs of a diverse stakeholder group,” Bieker said. That means creating conditions that enhance the area for residents, employees and town visitors.

That could include facilities, as well as other ideas “to bring the community to this place,” Bieker said.

Eventually, that could mean a parent drops off a kid for hockey practice at the ice rink, then waits by enjoying a program at the library and finally meeting friends for coffee nearby.

And, while the civic area isn’t in a resort area, it’s easy walking distance to both Vail Village and Lionshead Village.

The ultimate plan could also help people better enjoy Gore Creek and, perhaps, discover Middle Creek, which runs roughly between the ice rink and Vail Health hospital.

Deciding what’s best

With the property, its history and some general ideas identified, it’s now the public’s turn to weigh in on what might be best for the area.

Danica Powell, of Trestle Strategy Group, told the group about a new way to weigh in with ideas or comments.

The civic area plan will be the first in Vail to use a new, web-based input system, called

That platform is being used by a number of cities and towns across the country. Locally, the platform is being used in Eagle, under the name.

While there won’t be a lot of public meetings before a draft plan is presented to the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission and, ultimately, the Vail Town Council, Powell said the EngageVail system will actually give people greater opportunities to join the planning process.

What kind of legacy

On the website, people are asked to complete a survey and include comments on topics including:

What makes a great civic space?

What’s currently missing (from the civic area)?

What kind of legacy do we want to leave?

People who register can also pinpoint areas they’d like to comment on, and all documents will be on the site.

Audre Engleman, who lives with her husband, Dimitri Moursellas, in a condo at the Four Seasons, will be a nearby neighbor to whatever ultimately happens in the area. Engleman said what she saw Tuesday is a “great start” and plans to register on the EngageVail site.

Snowden Smith has worked at the Vail International condos for a number of years, and has seen previous ideas come and go. He said he also plans to register on the EngageVail site.

Tom Saalfeld is the current chairman of the Vail Recreation District Board of Directors.

He’s also seen plans for the area rise and fall but said he’s encouraged by the start of this one.

“There could be a great recreation benefit right here,” he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at and 970-748-2930.

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