Vail Valley Voices: A citizen’s view of Eagle Town Board session
Vail, CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is from the Eagle Town Board’s May 10 session. If you would like to comment on your board’s activities, send your column to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the Town Board chose not to film meetings, the audio recording did not work, and the press was not there, so this recap will need to suffice for those who are curious as to what our leaders are doing.
The meeting started with quite a lot of public comment. A landowner asked for more than his appraisal for open space, and given the recent effort of the highway cleanup, I asked if there was an ordinance that could help decrease the trash that accumulates around the post office.
Potatopalooza founder Erin Seabury asked the board to grant $5,000 as received in previous years for the event to continue, as she had found an outside promoter to improve the event.
Trustee Kraige Kinney questioned why they waited so long to request the funds, and the mayor stood by his belief the town should not be in the business of marketing.
A Market Street business owner asked if, toward the end of the year, holiday decorations could be expanded to other parts of town. This business owner made this request so that all parts of town feel like Eagle instead of just Broadway.
Anyone’s stomach would have been seriously growling for some Italian food when Pastatively’s expansion was approved. It will be great to see the new space, but at minimum, the owner stated proudly that you will no longer have to go outside to pee.
The Wall Street project developers were hoping to get outside quickly after an approval because, two weeks prior, the board seemed to approve the development agreement negotiated over several meetings. However, some board members didn’t realize they had agreed upon anything, and so the agreement had to be revised again before it was approved with changes.
Although the board stated it liked this project and it was the first time in Eagle history such a deal had ever been granted, I’m not sure the developer agreed. I don’t think the developer left happy, which didn’t surprise me because for the third time, the enthusiasm for this project didn’t reach to my seat in the audience.
My seat also must not be close enough to see the understanding between the staff and the board, as lack of process, open space and confusion seem to be recurring themes.
Since I am fairly new to the Town Board meetings and I understand this valley is special, my expectations might be too high. But I don’t think my expectations are off when, as a resident, I expect a town manager who makes $115,000 per year (more than the governor of Colorado) to be reviewed by the board with input from the public, developers, staff and businesses. If the board members cannot seem to direct the staff in a manner they are happy with related to negotiations with developers, open space or presentation, how could a resident be expected to do the same? And although I appreciate that the board needs to be more efficient, shouldn’t the board members be thrilled with the public standing before them since they represent us?
Trustee Scot Webster made a great point that although he, too, thought the meetings could be more efficient, he needed the information to make informed decisions.
In the end, it was agreed everyone could do better. But if they don’t do better, I wonder if there are any consequences for a staff that aren’t reviewed. And if the public can’t watch or hear the meetings, will there be any consequences for those on the board who might rerun in April?
If the board wants to make an informed decision, it will have to start after the Hammer Mash event. It was approved at the last meeting, and the liquor portion was approved at the beginning of this meeting, but nobody seemed to understand the scope of the event.
The trustees were glad the public was trying something, but they were apprehensive about the impact an event like this would have on the Bureau of Land Management relations and the trails and how such events needed to be controlled if at all.
After the meeting was adjourned, the water-rate study made a fourth appearance. There were still some lingering questions, but in the end, Version 2 was chosen. It is hard to fathom during these difficult times that we taxpayers will pay $14 million to $18 million to have green lawns in this Western climate as the winter usage of 800,000 gallons of water climbs to 3.2 million gallons in summer. People are making a choice. Hopefully they understand the financial impacts of those choices when watering their lawns.
As a resident who attends every meeting if possible, I’ve learned personalities, about local businesses and the public hearing process among other things. But I’m not sure I’ve learned why frustration between staff and the board is not addressed in a review process and why having such fabulous trails and $40,000 to market the town has created so little enthusiasm for the town marketing itself instead of being a springboard to greater things.
Brandi Resa is an Eagle resident.