Vail town site project makes progress
VAIL – A project the town of Vail has touted as a major future economic driver reached another milestone in the planning process Tuesday, keeping in line with a proposed goal for finishing the project in time for the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships.
The town of Vail, Vail Valley Medical Center, Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute have formed a partnership to redevelop the town’s municipal site complex into medical offices on the west side of the site, and new town municipal offices on the east side of the site. The town approved a nonbinding agreement Tuesday called a memorandum of understanding, although many more details about the deal are still up for negotiation and will go through a public meeting process.
The town of Vail released a sale price of the western portion of the property to the medical partners in the deal as $5 million – a price that Eagle County resident Michael Cacioppo questioned.
Cacioppo told the council the town should have put the property out to bid in order to get “top dollar.”
Mayor Andy Daly squashed the suggestion that the negotiated sale price isn’t a wise move by the town. He said the second most important economic driver for the town of Vail is medical business, with the most important being winter, and hopefully, summer recreation. He also said a full appraisal of the property has been done and will be released to the public.
“This is by far and away the best investment we can make as a community,” Daly said.
Daly also addressed concerns raised by Vail Homeowners Association Executive Director Jim Lamont about thoroughly vetting the specifics of the redevelopment plan.
He told the town it has specific responsibilities to follow review processes.
“There’s no guarantee that you’re delivering, as part of this contract, that you will in fact approve the project you have looked at until you have effectuated your duties in a quasi-judicial capacity,” Lamont said.
Daly assured everyone in the room that Lamont’s concerns would be addressed throughout the process.
What also needs to be addressed throughout the process is how the town will finance roughly $10 million for its portion of the redevelopment. The town’s cost is estimated at roughly $15 million, said town Finance Director Judy Camp. She said $15 million is the worst case estimate.
Because $5 million will come from the sale of a portion of the property to the Vail Valley Medical Center, the town has to put up $10 million. The three options Camp presented Tuesday include financing all $10 million with certificates of participation, which include several one-year financing contracts and don’t require voter approval.
The town could also pay for the project with cash from its general fund reserves, which are a healthy $20.7 million as of the end of this year. If the town paid all $10 million in cash, it would save more than $500,000 in interest and fees that would be incurred through the certificates of participation, Camp said.
Or the town could use a combination of cash and certificates of participation, which would cost about $285,000 in interest and fees and opposed to more than $500,000 if the town went purely with outside financing.
Daly pointed out that the town’s debt on town parking structures would be fully repaid by 2013, freeing up the $2.3 million per year that had gone to paying that debt.
Should the town pay entirely with cash, though, Camp said the town’s reserve funds would still be more than adequate as the town’s requirement for reserves is to keep 25 percent of annual revenues available. The town would still have 37 percent of annual revenues available if it paid all $10 million out of the reserve fund, Camp said.
The town will discuss details of the plan, including financing, at several upcoming public meetings and work sessions.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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