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Visitors offer perspective

Don Rogers

Vail No. 1. Again.

If you need some perspective outside the little burg whose denizens like to gnaw over every little, large and largely imaginary problem – this is it.

Sure, it’s only SKI magazine. Another PR tool and mechanism to sell issues.

It’s also 20,000 skiers weighing in each year on how they view the ski universe. That’s the part to pay attention to –the folks who ski the mountains and decide with their pocketbooks which are most worthy.

In short: Things aren’t nearly so awful as we like to make them.

Vail. No. 1. Again.

Short memory

The town criers are trying to hard to make it sound as if Vail hasn’t already taken large steps to improve that business climate.

But the die has long been cast on wide-scale renovation of both base villages. We’re talking a billion dollars or so worth of projects in the gristmill now. The town’s Streetscape planning is moving along in concert with all this. By 2005, if all goes as planned, the gem of ski communities will glisten anew.

Four Seasons and other new high-end hotels will be in place. The Crossroads and other complexes will be revamped. Front Door remake of Vail Village completed, Lionshead reborn, conference center up and helping the town through those shoulder seasons, affordable housing no longer a concern for workers, and ideally more condo associations taking the Antlers at Vail’s profitable model to heart.

If Vail’s leaders can keep their eye on the ball for the long-term and not let themselves get stampeded in a panic to end Frontage Road parking this instant. they’ll have that parking issue resolved, as well.

Just a few decisions have been made since this and previous councils have answered the community’s calls for a community center, providing more affordable housing in town, and yes, parks – subjects not so many years ago at the top of those precious community surveys, even over business issues.

As the public becomes more aware of the changes aimed to help the town economically, no question that moving target of a community survey will focus on other needs and wants.

Forgetting about the conference center to come and preferring visitors paying for residents’ services are not particularly signs of wisdom in the poll, however.

The business that comes from a well-run conference center will be among the most significant improvements in Vail’s economic fortunes. And taking more of the tax load off the backs of merchants and better balancing with what’s now the lowest property tax rate in the High Country would no doubt benefit the business community, as well.


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