Vail Daily column: Vail must balance tourism, community
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
The town is making remarkable progress economically, but ongoing concerns remain about quality-of-life issues. How successful the community will be in addressing those concerns will be determined, in part, by the upcoming Town Council election in November. Between now and the election, the Homeowners Association will initiate a dialogue about rebalancing the qualitative factors of the Vail experience. Factors the association believes should be given consideration include governance/inclusivity, growth related congestion, environmental deterioration and community accessibility. The decisions which shaped Vail’s physical redevelopment have largely already been determined. How to successfully fine tune decisions that address the sensitive balance between promoting tourism and building community remains an open question warranting public discussion.
Locally it appears that the Great Recession is in the rear view mirror. According to the town financial report for 2014, there was an unprecedented 20.8 percent increase in total revenues in 2014 over 2013, and sales tax receipts for this season are up 5.9 percent when compared with last year’s winter season (November-February). Vail Resorts reported resort EBITDA increased 32.2 percent for the second quarter of fiscal 2015 compared to the same period in the prior year resulting in a stir of activism at the board level, according to reports in the national media.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail announced, in conjunction with Vail Resorts, that it has filed an application with the U.S. Forest Service that will add 75 acres of skiable terrain at the summit of Golden Peak that will be interconnected with its existing race training area. The purpose is to provide more space to handle the club’s growth in staff and students, which has occurred over the years. The new area is designed to handle the club’s early season race training program. There is the potential that the town may be requested to financially contribute to the race area expansion. The expanded training area, which will include snowmaking capabilities, coincides with the proposed expansion of its clubhouse facilities. Financing for the clubhouse is for the most part assured as the town agreed to allow two residential units in the new clubhouse building, the sale of which is to fund its redevelopment. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail also announced that it will see a change in its senior management at the end of the 2016 ski season.
On April 7, the Town Council extended the Planning and Environmental Commission approval for the golf clubhouse project, which was about to expire, until 2017. Also, the town reported that the process of selecting a contractor remains underway. Neighbors and others continue to raise concerns over the impacts on the neighborhood from the proposed event center. Litigation by the neighbors remains on-going and, if successful, could potentially cause the project to be reheard by the Planning and Environmental Commission. The proposed event center has come into conflict with the surrounding residential neighborhood over congestion related issues such as inadequate parking, public safety and quality-of-life impacts. With the upcoming council election in November, any change in council membership could mean a revisiting of the project, especially if construction has not yet commenced. Even if construction were to occur, the courts could still curtail the event center function.