Voters OK $9.4 million for Vail projects
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Vail voters are not willing to let $9.4 million go to waste in this economy, even if they weren’t thrilled about the uses for which the money will be spent.
Voters approved the use of the $9.4 million conference center funds Tuesday for three town of Vail projects – renovation of the Vail Golf Clubhouse, expansion and renovation of the Ford Park recreation fields, and upgrades at the Ford Amphitheater.
Supporters of the ballot question were gathered at Vendetta’s Tuesday night awaiting results, and later celebrating when they heard voters approved the use of the funds.
Joe Hanlon, chair of the Vail Recreation District board, was a supporter for obvious reasons – two of the three projects, Ford Park and the golf clubhouse, are operated by the Vail Recreation District. He celebrated at Vendetta’s Tuesday night with folks from the Vail Valley Foundation, which operates the Ford Amphitheater, and other familiar community faces.
Hanlon said the projects will drive more business in town.
“I think it’s very important for the community because it helps the three assets on the east end of town with a great facelift and renovation that will make them state-of-the-art, cutting edge, world-class-style venues for Vail,” Hanlon said.
The $9.4 million fund is the result of a special lodging and sales tax collection from 2002-2005 that was meant to be for a conference center, but voters rejected that idea in 2005, leaving a big question mark around how to spend the money.
The three projects didn’t have overwhelming support from voters polled by the Vail Daily Tuesday, but many felt giving the money back to taxpayers via a decreased lodging tax over 20 years would be foolish.
“I think if we don’t use it we might end up losing it, and that doesn’t make sense, not in this economy,” said voter Colleen McCarthy. “If you’ve got dollars, let’s use them. I wish that the projects were fully funded, but if we have to piecemeal them, then something’s better than nothing.”
Michael Marshall voted in favor of spending the money on the three projects, too, although he thinks there could have been better uses for the money. Marshall voted “no” in 2005 when the town asked voters to spend the money to build a conference center, but he voted “yes” this time around because he thinks the three projects on the ballot could at least be useful for the town’s economy.
Judy Sanford said she voted yes because she felt the town had thought it through and was on the right track. Plus, she couldn’t see an effective way to return the money back to taxpayers.
“So we might as well spend it on something useful, I think,” she said.
Voter Gary Hall called a yes vote “the only sensible thing to do.”
Chris Gilbert was one of the “no” votes for the conference fund question. He said had the question asked to use the money for something more compelling in terms of economic growth, he would have been all for it.
He doesn’t think improvements at the Ford Amphitheater and bathrooms at Ford Park are the answer, though.
“I voted on giving it back – reducing the tax burden on everybody. We get taxed enough as it is,” Gilbert said.
Elizabeth Eber said the proposed projects are good projects, but she was hoping the money would be spent on something related to health and wellness. She thinks there should be a stronger push toward that industry becoming the next major economic engine in Vail.
Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz celebrated Tuesday night because she said the decision makes so much sense because it’s for the greater good of the community.
“To enhance three things that really are enormous amenities already to the community, but to make them world class and at the standard they should be, I think it’s a great place to put that money,” Folz said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.