Guerriero: A commitment to a sustainable future
As a leader at Vail Resorts who is passionate about our Commitment to Zero and intimately familiar with the community’s housing challenges, I understand the concerns of some in the Vail community regarding the affordable housing development in East Vail. However, some of the recent characterization of Vail Resorts’ commitment to a sustainable future is unfair and inaccurate.
Sustainability isn’t an either-or proposition — either growth or the environment. The path toward a sustainable future means responsible growth and environmental stewardship. We ask ourselves every day — how do we grow our sport and access to the mountains, support our communities’ economic viability, and remain stewards of the environment? It’s a challenge, but one that Vail Resorts is committed to through our Commitment to Zero principles.
I am very familiar with the East Vail project, and I see an answer to all three of these questions. As we look toward the future, we know our employees need more affordable housing close to where they work. If Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek Resort and the entire Vail Valley community are to remain the world’s premiere mountain destination, this must happen — and fast.
This project and the decisions made to bring it to life also respect the environment and the wildlife who call the area home. That’s why Vail Resorts chose to downzone the parcel to affordable housing, dedicating the majority of the land — over 17 acres — to wildlife habitat. Had Vail Resorts not taken that action in collaboration with the town of Vail it would have remained an area zoned for high-end homes.
During the project’s development, our company also consulted with wildlife experts and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to design a plan that respects wildlife. This plan funds long overdue critical habitat enhancements for the bighorn sheep population.
Sustainable development means we have to make additional considerations for the environment, those that favor density over sprawl, or proximity to the workplace and public transportation. The East Vail affordable housing project follows these best practices in sustainable development — it is high-density affordable housing, close to where people work and near public transportation.
I share a passion for wildlife and the environment, and the people who bring Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek Resort, the town of Vail, Avon and the entire Vail Valley community to life need a place to live.
The very nature of everyone living in Vail — whether it’s in a large single-family home or a 165-bed affordable housing project — has an impact. Zero net operating impact means mitigating and offsetting our impacts so we can responsibly cohabitate with the natural environment around us.
All of us at Vail Resorts are committed to our Epic Promise Commitment to Zero and we’re committed to sustainable growth, and the East Vail affordable housing project is a part of those commitments.
Nadia Guerriero is Chief Operating Officer of Beaver Creek Resort.