Vail Daily column: Projects represent investments in Avon’s future
The town of Avon is investing in its future. The new Performance Pavilion, Main Street Mall and the purchase of a new Town Hall is creating a buzz. These great things happening in our town are intended to anchor our current businesses as well as attract new businesses while enhancing the lives of our residents and visitors. The goal is to create a vibrancy, a magnet to attract people and business.
The new Main Street Mall will be opening any day now, providing a clear vision of the direction in which our town is heading, a place where people come to gather, with future opportunities for shopping, dining and special events. The Carrie Fell painting on the wall of The Seasons building on Lettuce Shed Lane and the various bronze sculptures along the mall are indicative of the creative direction that is envisioned for Avon. The bronzes can be touched and experienced and multiple climbing rocks have been placed, making the mall an ideal spot for families.
This wonderful walkway is certain to breathe a new energy and vitality into Avon, supporting current businesses and undoubtedly attracting new businesses to the area. The two Main Street Mall plazas will host the grand opening for the first weekend in December, and then events like a Winter Market and Apres Avon, an element of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. As you head west along the new mall you will end up at 140 Mikaela Way, our new Town Hall.
The new Town Hall is ideally situated for a self-serve visitor center and community gathering space in addition to the well-needed public restrooms. The ground floor will hold council chambers which will be a multi-use space available for nonprofit meetings, lectures, film festivals — you name it, the possibilities are endless.
The Avon Town Council has followed through with the vision of past councils. The new pavilion and planned improvements for Nottingham Park are a central part of the West Town Center Investment Plan adopted in 2007. We are striving to create a vibrant environment for our residents, businesses and visitors, and all of this progress has been achieved without raising taxes.
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The town of Avon has planned to purchase its new Town Hall with certificates of participation. This is a way to finance the building without increasing taxes. This project’s debt has been approved by the council with current real estate transfer taxes. In addition, the town’s reserves remain fully funded. With highly favorable low interest rates and a recent payoff on a previous COP issue by the town with an annual debt payment of $465,000, financing the building at this time could not be more opportune. Overall, a net savings on debt of $70,000 in taxes results from the COP changes.
It must be noted that real estate transfer taxes remain available for other needed projects over the next five years, including but not limited to a new playground and trail development. There are some who believe any debt should come before the voters. Others trust the elected council to make the funding decision, noting past success with COPs, used to finance the Fleet Maintenance Facility and Transportation Facility for example, being utilized much like a home mortgage.
Issuing COPs will enable the town to purchase the building and complete the necessary finishes. The new Town Hall is not a frivolous purchase. The current Town Hall is outdated and woefully inadequate, in need of a major renovation but realistically a scrape and rebuild. This under-taking, a renovation of the current Town Hall, is estimated to cost more than the purchase and finishing of 140 Mikaela Way — the new Town Hall. We, as the council, concluded to purchase the new Town Hall and then have the current site open to other uses, seeing this as good planning, a prioritized use of town real estate transfer taxes and an exceptional investment.
The future of the current Town Hall location is an exciting opportunity. This is a prime location, ideally situated on Nottingham Park, close to the lake, the Performance Pavilion, the Recreation Center, Main Street Mall and walking distance to the gondola. Something great will go here — whether it is expansion of the park, new surface or structure parking, an inn, conference center, a combination of these uses or a yet to be identified project. The Town Council will have this work before them next year and we will eagerly look to our community to help plan the future uses.
Join me in finding the Main Street Mall, Pavilion and new Town Hall as the most progressive, beautiful, inspiring and commercially important investments the town has made in the past 10 years. We, the council, need your continued awareness, comments and support for the future work of the town. I look forward to these discussions and possibilities for building on this past year’s remarkable successes.
Jennie Fancher is Avon’s mayor pro tem.