Wishes for Vail vary with longevity
VAIL – Is there a generation gap in Vail?As the town goes through its “billion-dollar” renewal, some members of Vail’s founding generation worry the resort may be losing the elusive “something” that made it special. Some of the town’s younger residents worry, too, but their concerns are how to preserve what’s special in Vail while still making it more modern.”It’s about respecting the old ways, but not stagnating,” said Patrick Cassidy. “We have to strike a balance.”Cassidy, a Vail resident since 1998, is eager to see what the immediate future will bring to the community, Cassidy said. “I don’t want to look like Denver,” he said. “But I’ve lived in a lot of cities, and this is one of the better ones. A lot of things aren’t that bad.”But while Vail changes, some of the people who came early and stayed fret about the size of the buildings.”We can’t keep adding more, more, more,” Elaine Kelton said. Kelton arrived in Vail in the mid-1960s and was one of the founders of the Ramshorn lodge. For her, Vail’s in need of a facelift, but it’s also in danger of losing the things that drew her and others to the place.”The experience of Vail seduces people,” Kelton said. “But we can only assimilate so many people.”The mountain experience and intimacy is what people come for,” she added. “When you look at Europe, the places that have urbanized are the ones that have lost visitors.”
The size of the new Vail Plaza Hotel, the Arrabelle at Vail Square in Lionshead and the Four Seasons Hotel have set a bad precedent, another longtime resident said.”The success of Vail is tied to the architecture,” said Merv Lapin, another Vailite who arrived in the 1960s. “The human scale of Vail Village is what’s missing at Beaver Creek.”Even the Arrabelle, which Lapin said mimics the village’s architecture, is still too big in his opinion.Not just an old-timer’s thingLapin isn’t alone in worrying that Vail may end up looking too much like Beaver Creek.”It’s pretty to look at there, and I don’t think the tourists notice, but for locals, there’s not a lot to draw them there,” said Leah Drew.Drew, a pharmacist at Vail Valley Medical Center, has lived in town for a little more than three years. She owns a home in Vail, and said she wouldn’t really want to live anywhere else in the valley.
“For work, skiing and the guests I have – and I seem to have a lot of guests – that outweighs the lack of places to go here,” she said. But, Drew added, she doesn’t go out much in Vail. “The thing I like to do least is go to the village,” she said. “I’m more likely to go to Edwards.”That’s why Drew and others like Brandy Person said they would like to see the Crossroads project built, especially if it includes a theater, bowling alley and mid-priced restaurants.”If there’s a bowling alley there, I’ll probably go,” Person said. Person and her husband, Tom, want to stay in the valley, and stay in Vail. They don’t have kids yet, and worry about moving up from their one-bedroom condo if they do. Buying that next home will be hard. Which is why Person is worried about the town’s future.”Remodeling is a must,” she said. “A lot of Vail was pretty shabby. The only thing that scares me is if it becomes sterile like Beaver Creek. That will drive the homeowners out.”Buying’s still goodNone of the recent arrivals interviewed for this story have ever worked for Luc Meyer. But all have taken his advice. “I tell all my employees to buy as soon as they can,” said Meyer, owner of The Left Bank restaurant and a 35-year Vail resident.While buying a home today is hard, Meyer said actually finding a place to live is easier than when he moved to town. “Today there are hundreds of condos available for rent,” he said.
Meyer wonders if a lot of newer arrivals really understand the kind of place they’ve come to, he said. “The younger generation hasn’t known what Lake Creek looked like years ago,” Meyer said. Now, he said, newer arrivals, especially developers, see open land or old buildings and see dollar signs.”We want to keep Vail the way it was, to keep people coming back,” Meyer said. “We created something, and it wasn’t a matter of money.”For Cassidy, though, keeping Vail the way it was isn’t an option.”It’s not going to be the perfect little place it was back then,” Cassidy said. “I don’t want to see everything in sight developed, but I want to see Crossroads, I want to see Costco downvalley. You can’t stop people from coming.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado