Vail Valley Voices: What to do with funds?
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report in April. We plan to publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter’s electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
2015 World Alpine Ski Championships: Budget-strapped organizers promised $100 million in local economic impact. This gave the Vail Town Council sufficient reason to move forward with funding the first $250,000 installment of a $1.25 million pledge toward the event’s $50 million cost. The controversy as to whether Vail will have a premium race venue during the championship remains a matter of conjecture.- Potentially, if the International Ski Federation (FIS) agrees, Golden Peak would be the site for a novel head to head race between national teams. This prospect has, for the time being mollified local critics – that is, until the FIS signs on or not.-
Conference center funds voter re-appropriation: Refinements are nearing completion to project proposals for a spending program needing voter approval to redistribute the $9.4 million in the conference center fund. Projects looked on favorably by the advisory committee include investing in improvements to the Golf Club House, Ford Park and a guest enhancement program that included a major makeover of the Vail Village welcome center and ski museum.-The public involvement in shaping the proposals has been limited to government officials and affected vendors.
Informed observers believe there is only “one shot” at gaining voter approval. If the redistribution measure fails at the polls, some legal advisors are saying the money has to be returned to the taxpayers, a complex issue in itself.
The voters can readily grasp “bricks and mortar” projects. Vague and open-ended concepts will have a difficult go of it. Given the mood of the electorate towards government spending, ill-defined proposals riding on the coattails of those that are well thought out could bring all down in defeat.
Of concern is a highly jargonized and obtusely defined guest enhancement “draft” concept paper making the rounds privately in local political circles. It contains inferences about “data mining” and “participating parties” as financial beneficiaries; this, because of their proprietary communication technology or other preferred positioning. The approach raises shades of “big brother” and conflict of interest.-For example, there are scant details on how, if funded by the voters, the “participating” parties would serve the “public interest” by getting newly arrived I-70 travelers to their Vail destinations, be it parking or otherwise.-Voters will want to see specifics along with firewalls between public and private interests.
Voters may not be pleased to know that the artificial turf, proposed for reconfigured playing fields at Ford Park, is not maintenance friendly; particularly for events that would put large crowds on it, like a rock concert where trash, drinks, chewing gum, cigarettes and the like become ground into its complex layers of synthetic surfaces.- According to knowledgeable technicians, artificial turf is far more costly to repair; it’s not just a matter of hosing it off.-As a consequence, the use of the playing fields will most probably be limited to athletics and not used for special events. The value of extending the athletic season for a month longer in the spring may not be worth the maintenance headaches and the potential for a loss in sales tax revenues from special events on the site.- Natural turf still may have greater benefits and flexibilities.- There has been limited public discussion on these issues.
Ever Vail review proceeding: The Town Council is working its way through the labyrinth of details associated with the proposed new-mixed use mountain portal-in West Lionshead. Some members of the Town Council are questioning whether the project has enough hotel rooms and office space. Opinions are being expressed that a much larger conference facility is needed.- Some in the public are asking for more owner-occupied affordable housing. The Homeowners Association has said the project cannot reach its full economic potential until the Town Council requires the adjacent sewer treatment plant to be master planned to eventually become aesthetically compatible with the $1 billion investment being made by Vail Resorts in Ever Vail.- The Town Council has the power to adopt a master plan for the entire neighborhood, including the sewer treatment plant. Any citizen of the town is able to initiate a master planning proceeding.–
I-70 upgrade: Recreational commuters won’t see large-scale relief anytime soon from the weekend traffic jams that populate the I-70 intermountain corridor between Denver and Vail both summer and winter. After years of public hearings and the deliberation of special study committees, the Colorado Department of Transportation is embracing some form of higher-speed train service. There is little hope of getting the $20 billion in public funding estimated to make all of the desired projects. In the interim, managed solutions to spread out traffic volume and increase vehicle occupancy will get further attention.-Advocates frustrated with the seeming lack of progress are talking of limiting truck traffic.-Scarce construction dollars will be meted out in an attempt to cure “pinch points” where congestion and traffic backups occur. Others don’t see any substantive resolution until, like Europe, critical portions of the interstate system are “privatized” or tolled.