VRD "coalition’ takes over | VailDaily.com

VRD "coalition’ takes over

Geraldine Haldner

On Tuesday, a week after voters elected them by a decisive margin, Nino Licciardi, Julie Hansen and Peter Cook, who campaigned as a “coalition,” did just that.

The $350 golf punch card for locals is back after a one-year hiatus, with a new one for Eagle County residents available immediately for $450. A $15 early-season discount coupon can be had by anyone taking scissors to the Front Range newspapers, and aside from user committees for golf, youth programs, tennis, hockey and gymnastics, the board will embark on an user audit.

Even the recreation board’s meetings will change – new place, new time, new public-comment policy.

The take-over by the five-member board happened swiftly, with a series of changes proposed and passed at a pace so frantic the 90-minute meeting seemed like a crash-course for a college final.

The three newcomers wasted little breath past taking the oath of office before installing themselves in the key positions on the board – unceremoniously relegating current board members to positions normally held by the newcomers.

Licciardi was elected to serve as the board’s new chairman, ousting Hermann Staufer, who has served on the board off an on for more than six years. Hansen will serve as vice chairman, and Cook – the trio’s financial man during the campaign – will take over as secretary/treasurer.

Staufer and fellow-board member Tom Saalfeld effectively are limited to going along with the new majority or becoming the disagreeable – and inconsequential – minority.

More changes are likely to come forth following a two-day retreat scheduled for June 3 and 4. The agenda, schedule and place of the retreat have not been announced.

Among immediate changes initiated during Tuesday’s meetings are the following:

– Punch cards are back. A $350, 10-punch card for district residents and a $450, 10-punch card for Eagle County residents will be available immediately. The punch cards are for 18-rounds of golf and do not include a cart. Hansen, who advocated the return of the punch card, said it would ensure a commitment by locals and valley residents to play Vail 10 times instead of taking their money to other area golf courses. Hansen said the card will be competitive in value with other courses and provide a good alternative to the VRD’s $800 golf season pass.

– Licciardi proposed – and got – an early-season discount for one round of golf at the Vail Golf Course between now and June 16. A coupon advertisement will be published in Denver newspapers as soon as possible, allowing the attentive coupon clipper to play an 18-hole round of golf for $50 – a $15 discount from the advertised $65 rate. The coupon will be good for as many as two players and will include a cart. Licciardi told his colleagues that given the early season condition of the course, Front Range golfers “aren’t burning up I-70 to play here for $50 without a cart.” In an effort to lure out-of-town visitors to come early and hopefully return for golf during the high season, the district would have to offer a competitive rate. The coupon was approved in a 3-2 vote with Licciardi, Hansen and Cook voting in favor of the discount program.

– Hansen proposed the recreation district begin forming user groups for golf, tennis, hockey and gymnastics. These groups would provide the board with direct feedback and suggestions on policy changes to particular recreation programs. The formation of user groups will be the responsibility of department supervisors and the board members will review staff’s efforts during the board’s retreat.

– Cook proposed the district initiate an audit of its users’ satisfaction levels, much like the financial audits done each year. Cook said the feedback should be done immediately to help the board make programming changes, wherever necessary. “That way we could get some feedback as we go forward with program planning,” he said. The board decided to review the user audit further during the board’s retreat.

– Hansen proposed the VRD meetings be moved from the Vail Golf Clubhouse to the Vail Municipal Building and be scheduled for the evening rather than morning, as has been the VRD’s routine in the past. Hansen and Licciardi advocated the change in meeting times and places to make them more accessible to the public. As approved by the entire board, VRD meeting will be held every first and third Tuesday at the Vail Municipal Building at 5 p.m.

Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 602 or at ghaldner@vaildaily.com.

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