Vail Valley Voices: Vail, take a breather from rush to medical-municipal complex
Vail, CO, Colorado
I think I’ve seen it all in terms of proposals to smooth out the annual Vail economy.
This includes four conference center proposals and the late 1980s aquatic center — which would have folks coming from far and near to use our wave machine, water slides, etc.
Now we have a proposal that sounds like it will actually work, to allow expansion of Vail’s second-largest industry — medical research and services. It involves a new Vail Valley Medical Center building and a redeveloped town administration facility on what is now our town property.
The medical center part of the equation is somewhat complicated, but largely isolated from the public’s concerns. The redeveloped town facility is more problematic.
This is all new ground from the standpoint of project management and degree of risk.
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A non-government and a government project are being done in parallel, joined at the hip with coordinated design and a shared entrance-parking arrangement.
It’s all aimed at a target date of January 2015. This includes all the building cranes coming down and just in time for the world championships in February 2015.
The medical center project will likely happen on schedule, as they are a non-government entity — where you give an order and it happens.
The town of Vail project will have to undergo all the usual and vitally important government hurdles — including citizen involvement, implicit detours, delays, etc..
As a result, one of two things could happen. Either the town will fall behind and be accused of foot dragging, or the government checks and balances will be truncated at an attempt at fast-pathing.
My suggestion is that the town take a short breather to gain perspective. My notions are:
1. Announce to the medical center that the town is taking a short timeout that will not materially affect the medical building’s schedule.
2. Discuss whether the possible negative scenarios suggested above are of concern.
3. Take the time to discuss the big picture. Perhaps the current plan for hospital expansion is too piecemeal and even myopic. Why not designate the current town administration land for medical and safety? It would allow future hospital expansion, including multiple medical buildings, a helipad, and the cop shop.
Then, in a phased plan, locate a redeveloped administration building on the half of the Timber Ridge property that will not be redeveloped. This could make a lot of sense, as the administration building does not have to be right in town, just as the post office moved to an “outlying area.”
4. Paying for a redeveloped administration building would be done using the $5 million from the land sale to the medical center, coupled with the additional funds flowing into the capital budget coffers now that the parking structure bonds are just about paid up.
5. A valid question looms: “But we have spent all this time and money on the project.” Yes, it’s true, but this would not be unusual and in the long run it might be worth it.
Remember the Donovan Pavilion? After months of planning and designing, the whole thing started over and a sensible structure was constructed.
And yes, there are some other little details I left out during the phased approach I am suggesting.
6. Finally, “If this is such a good idea, why wasn’t it put forward sooner?”
Frankly, it’s only been recently at the March 20 Town Council workshop that enough details have been presented to the council (and members of the public attending it) to craft these ideas.
In any case, the currently planned medical building would proceed as planned.
The Town Council would be wise to at least discuss these ideas, as they were put together from input received from a variety of individuals.
The Town Council will rightly only agree to looking at a bigger picture with public input.
So submit a letter to the Daily, leave a voice message, send an email or attend a council meeting to express your views, one way or the other.
Paul Rondeau is a Vail resident.