Vail tackles economy
About Thursday night: A town meeting was convened to address the issue that was determined to be of number one concern to all 400 community survey participants, namely the “economic viability of the business community.”
The town should be applauded for this step. The group that assembled represented a large cross section of the community. My guess is that there were more business people than any other group. But there were landlords, primary and secondary homeowners, Vail Resorts, a rep from Congressman Udall’s office, a county commissioner, leaders of most of the major organizations and a wide variety of concerned citizens.
What was glaringly missing was the Town Council. The only ones in attendance were Dick Cleveland, Diana Donovan and Bill Jewitt. So you don’t forget who they are, absent were Mayor Ludy Kurz, Mayor Pro-Tem Rod Slifer, Greg Moffet and Chuck Ogilby.
I don’t need to tell you of the serious economic issues currently facing the town. So why was this discussion not important to our councilmen? How are the members of this community expected to take any of this seriously if our elected officials don’t? Are we already facing a lame duck mentality from this council? It was important enough to approximately 80 concerned citizens that they could find time to attend.
There were several overriding themes. Of course, the town of Vail got the biggest hits. Too much red tape. Too many rules. Rules that may have worked in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s but haven’t worked since. Rules that are not enforced evenly-fairly. A bureaucracy that is out of control and runs counter-productive to common sense. Processes that are too cumbersome, costly and time-consuming. Parking. Ineffective summer marketing.
Next in line were the landlords. Rents too high. Rents going up while traffic is going down. Punitive triple net leases. Empty store fronts. No investment in properties. And that list went on, as well.
And what meeting would be complete without a few swipes at Vail Resorts? The Buddy Pass. Parking. Change in guest demographic. Not sharing research. Disparity in ticket pricing, etc.
Of course, there was the typical but totally accurate perception that the TOV has lost its vitality and is not fun anymore. The town is old and tired and needs revitalization. I could write forever but there’s nothing we all haven’t said and-or heard many times before.
There was, however, one thing of interest that was conspicuous by its absence – the convention center. While there were six pages filled with things that were either wrong, need fixing or suggested for improvement, the convention center was never mentioned.
I double checked with the TOV and it didn’t make the “to do” list. Somehow, no one in that room saw it as part of the solution.
But nonetheless, it was nice to see faces that don’t normally spend much time in Town Hall. And with the 4th of July coming, it was nice to reflect on the good things about Vail – two pages were filled with those. It was also an interesting exercise. But unless we intend to do something with this information, it will be nothing more than that, an exercise. I hate to be cynical but this very information has been available for a LONG time.
As an example, the sign code was determined to be too cumbersome, complicated and impossible to enforce. A decision was made to fix it. A consultant was hired.
A committee was formed. The consultant and committee had multiple meetings with the staff. Many drafts were presented to the Chamber. This has been going for OVER TWO YEARS and we still don’t have a new sign code. It hasn’t even made it to the Town Council.
I also remember the painful Vail Tomorrow process that cost $1.5 million with little to show for it.
But I’m an optimist or I wouldn’t still be at it. We have to keep trying. Keep the pressure on. Demand results. And by the way, while you’re at it, as election time rolls around, remember the council members who just couldn’t fit Thursday night into their schedules. Maybe we shouldn’t fit them into ours come November.
PS: For the moron out there who attacked my response of an “I don’t know yet” to Cliff Thompson’s question at 2 Saturday about how my business was affected by the chili cook-off – here’s my response, which I am happy to give without hiding behind Tipsline: You have my deepest sympathy. In the meantime,get a life. Maybe you need a hobby, or am I it? If so, I’ll take that as a compliment. And by way, the comments about the Chamber only further display your ignorance. The question is: Why do you want to display it so publicly? But next time, try acting like an adult and identify yourself. Maybe in your case, that’s an oxymoron.
A REMINDER: The Parking Commission meets July 9 at 2:30 at Public Works. If you do not plan to attend, please weigh in with your opinion. The main questions are:
1. Should Free After 3 be returned?
2. Should we return to 90 minutes free parking instead of last year’s 60 minutes?
3. Should Ford Park be used as a solution for winter parking? (Please reference last week’s column and the VRI offer.)
In reference to No. 3, I have received a lot of feed back on this issue and there is overwhelming support. Even from those who I thought would be in opposition, there is strong acceptance if Ford Park is used as a temporary solution. Temporary seems to mean that the fields be used for approximately five years or until Lionshead is redeveloped and we see where we are. I can live with that. But the criteria for what happens after five years should be defined now.
There are those who still want the discounted passes to go away. Like it or not, we don’t control VRI’s marketing. The passes have been sold for next year, so all that’s important now is that we find a parking solution for this winter. Keep debating, if you like, about future years, but this year’s parking problem desperately needs solving.
Do your part,call them and write them.
To contact the Town Council call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Vail Resorts call 476-5601 or email email@example.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-search:ferry.
Kaye Ferry, founding president of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, is a longtime observer of Vail government.