Vail Town Council going virtual again, taking public comment
Council Tuesday will hear public comment on proposed agreement that would relocate Booth Creek project
The latest Eagle County public health order has limited gathering sizes. That means Tuesday’s Vail Town Council meeting will be an all-virtual affair.
Councilmember Kim Langmaid said the latest order would require councilmembers and staff to wear masks through the entire meeting. Given the length of some meetings — Tuesday’s session is expected to take as long as eight hours — Langmaid said it’s better to go back to the virtual format.
“People are getting more comfortable using Zoom,” Langmaid said, adding there’s enough technology available to take public comment.
There could be a good bit of public comment at Tuesday’s meeting. The council is scheduled for a 90-minute discussion of a draft memorandum of understanding between the town, Vail Resorts and Triumph Development regarding alternatives to the Booth Heights housing site in East Vail.
The draft of that document is complex, with the ultimate goal of building housing somewhere besides East Vail, relocating the Children’s Garden of Learning preschool, enhancing wildlife habitat in the East Vail area and, eventually, giving the town ownership of the 23.3-acre Booth Heights parcel.
The clock’s ticking
If the draft agreement is to hit one of its prime goals — replacing housing at Booth Heights with units elsewhere in town — by November of 2022, the agreement needs to meet steady progress.
Langmaid said that regardless of the progress of the broad agreement, the town has already identified a preferred site for the Booth Heights property. That site is home to the current Children’s Garden of Learning site, a town-owned parcel just east of the Middle Creek Village apartments.
That’s going to require the preschool to relocate. The town has proposed adding a third story to the Vail Gymnastics Center, as a potential new home for the preschool.
“It’s important to us to find a win-win solution for all the parties involved,” Langmaid said. “We’re trying to make a system that works for everyone involved.”
The proposal, still in its draft form, has already generated plenty of response.
Councilmember Brian Stockmar said there’s been a steady flow of emails about the proposals. Speaking via phone Friday, Stockmar said he expects more comments to come in before the Tuesday meeting.
For those who prefer to comment in the moment, Langmaid said people can register to comment, and choose whether or not to appear via video.
But, she added, “We definitely want to hear from everyone in the community who has some feedback to share with us.”
The town earlier this year delayed hearings on a rezoning request from the owners of the Highline Hotel in West Vail, as well as a request to create a “special development district” on that property.
Town officials in late April decided to delay hearings on those topics until the public could appear in person to comment.
No need to delay
Stockmar noted that the Highline proposals were “quasi-judicial” actions, adding that the council had been advised by Vail Town Attorney Matt Mire to hold in-person sessions for those topics.
The proposed memorandum of understanding is legally somewhat different, Stockmar said, so the town can take public comment via email or Zoom.
Like Langmaid, Stockmar said he welcomes public comment on the proposal.
“I like to look people in the eye and listen,” Stockmar said. “That’s a huge part of our jobs.”
For now, though, email and Zoom will have to suffice.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.