Will Vail have a new golf clubhouse by 2016?
By the numbers
$3.8 million: Increase in estimated cost of renovating the clubhouse building at the Vail Golf Club
87 percent: Number of Vail voters in 2011 who voted in favor of a plan to spend lodging tax money first collected to build a conference center in town.
120: Current guest capacity at the clubhouse.
160: Guest capacity at the rebuilt clubhouse.
1,700: Size increase, in square feet, from the existing building.
VAIL — A plan for a rebuilt clubhouse and Nordic center building at the Vail golf course took one more step Tuesday. As you might expect, it came with some controversy.
By a 6-1 vote, the Vail Town Council last week approved spending another $3.8 million on the renovation plan. The original plan, budgeted at roughly $7 million about two years ago, had to be updated due to delays in construction and cost increases.
Consultant Chris Penney, of NV5, a local company, told council members that the 2012 budget would have been close if construction had begun that year. But golf course neighbors sued the town because of the project. After being dismissed in district court in Eagle, the two suits filed by the neighbors are now being heard by the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Penney said that costs were driven in large part by increased building activity here and particularly along the Front Range. The budget also took a hit when further study showed that renovating the building would replace as much as 85 percent of the existing structure.
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CONSTRUCTION COSTS RISING
Penny said construction costs since 2012 have increased by about 9 percent per year, adding he expects costs to rise another 9 percent by September, the anticipated start date.
But opposition to the plan still exists.
Deborah Webster, a member of the group suing the town over the project, asked the council to delay a final decision until the court of appeals has heard the case.
Council member Dale Bugby, a longtime critic of the clubhouse plan, said he believes the project as designed won’t work economically or with the parking as currently planned. He also said the council members who approved the original plan “deceived” town voters into voting for a plan that would turn the clubhouse into an events center. He asked the council to start over on the plan.
Bugby’s comments drew a strong response from Mayor Andy Daly. Daly and council member Margaret Rogers are the only members of the council who voted for the plan still serving.
Daly acknowledged that mistakes were made in the early days of creating the plan for the clubhouse.
“It was poorly communicated, and we’ve come to pay the consequences for that,” Daly said. But, he added, “at no point have I made any attempt to deceive the public.”
COUNCIL APPROVES PROJECT
After nearly an hour of discussion, the council voted, with Bugby the lone dissent, to approve the additional money for the project.
With the money available, the project now goes farther into the design phase, including a trip to the Vail Design Review Board. That group often requires changes to plan designs before approving them.
Kim Newbury is a former town council member and a current member of the Vail Recreation District’s elected board of directors. That district manages the town’s golf course and other recreation facilities.
Newbury said she’s confident that the clubhouse design will be improved as the approval process continues.
For now, though, the district has to make due for at least another season with the current clubhouse, which was built in the early 1970s.
MAINTAINING AN OLD BUILDING
That structure wasn’t special when it was built, and it’s definitely showing its age. But Newbury bristles a bit when people claim the building is falling down around users.
“I think (the district) does an excellent job of maintaining a very old building,” Newbury said. “Our board has struggled with spending on repairs, because you don’t want to spend $100,000 for a new roof on a building that’s going to be replaced.”
Kevin Foley was on the Vail Town Council that first approved the clubhouse plan, although he voted against it. At the time, he urged a more careful approach to designing the building, and waiting for litigation with the neighbors to move through the courts.
Now, though, Foley wants the project to move forward.
“The overwhelming issue is we need a new building,” Foley said. “We need to build something that’s going to last another 50 or 60 years.”
Foley believes the cost of the project may increase still more between now and the time the final checks are written — that tends to be the nature of buildings built with publicly-declared budgets, he said.
Having the new building done by September 2016 would be a good thing, he said — if it’s something the town can be proud of.
“Let’s make this a facility people enjoy,” he said. “I think people will see something with the new 18th green and the new putting area.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.