Vail Town Council Candidate: Margaret Rogers
I have a passion for Vail and the skills and experience to handle the challenges facing our town in the next several years. We are losing business experience on the council at a time when it is most needed.
There are significant development projects in the pipeline. We have a $49.6 million budget and a projected $25.8 million capital improvements shortfall. These issues will affect the quality of life in Vail for many years to come.
My 20 years of experience as a corporate litigator has taught me to listen and analyze, compromise when it is appropriate, and stand my ground when it is not.
The biggest issue is maintaining the quality of life that both residents and visitors have come to expect in Vail. Development, lack of affordable housing and parking shortages all impact our quality of life.
We have the opportunity to improve our environment, strengthen our business community and make sure that families and workers can afford to live in town.
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The council has done a good job in some areas, but needs to improve in others. The passage of the inclusionary zoning and commercial linkage regulations was a major step forward in addressing the problem of providing adequate workforce housing.
This was, I believe, the major accomplishment of the last council. It was less successful in managing revenues and expenses, leaving the town with a projected $25.8-million capital improvement shortfall.
I do support it. It will increase the economic base by adding hot beds, retail and a conference center; it will help to alleviate the parking problems and will provide a commercial linkage between Lionshead and Vail Village.
However, since the project cannot proceed without Vail Resorts’ approval, unless and until that happens, I don’t think the Council should spend any more time and energy on it when there are other priorities to address.
Redevelopment is very important to maintaining our town’s vitality. It should be smart development, however, benefiting the town as well as the developer.
As a member of the Design review Board throughout Vail’s renewal, I have been closely involved in working with developers to achieve this goal. This entails looking at each project individually, and making sure that each is well designed and constructed in a manner that puts the minimal burden on our visitors and residents.
I am in favor of limiting development in the village core, however. I would consider creating an “historic district” to preserve the character of the village. We don’t want to tear down the buildings that are on our postcards and which visitors expect to see when they come to Vail.
Vail is not just a resort town, it is a community with families and workers. To maintain this mix we must provide housing assistance both in town and outside its limits.
The issue is the lack of land in Vail for affordable housing. Timber Ridge, our largest parcel, can be designed to accommodate both rental and owned units. The proposals I’ve seen call for two rows of four-story buildings. I’d like to see the buildings in the back be six stories, with “penthouses” for deed-restricted owned housing.
We might also want to construct row houses on part of the parcel for this purpose.
The town should use environmentally-friendly methods in all projects it undertakes. I want to look at geothermal for heating sidewalks and solar for new town buildings. As vehicles in the town fleet come up for replacement, I would purchase hybrid or other energy efficient vehicles.
I would replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents in all the town’s buildings, create financial incentives for developers by lowering fees for those who use environmentally friendly building methods and materials, work with the county to improve the bus schedules and encourage employers to provide bus passes to their workers.
Before endorsing any particular method, I want to look at the town’s entire financial picture and propose a comprehensive approach to the problem.
I am appalled at the cost of some projects the town has undertaken. I would make sure we get value for the money we spend by insisting we get multiple bids for any significant expenditure. I would look at a variety of revenue sources to fund projects, including changes to the RETT fund, and use of TIF (tax-increment) financing.
A construction supplies tax may be part of the plan, but not enough thought has been given to other alternatives.
Q: What is the single best idea you have to move the town in the right direction?
A: We have a tremendous resource that is not currently being tapped ” the experience and talent of active and retired financial managers, investment bankers, marketing consultants, development and construction experts, and other business people.
They may not have the time required to serve on a town board, commission or council, but they can advise the town on projects that come before it. They, too, have an interest in making Vail the best that it can be. By using this “brain bank” on blue ribbon committees we can bring the maximum creativity and knowledge to the issues facing the town.