Vail Daily column: Working toward an ideal community |

Vail Daily column: Working toward an ideal community

Richard A. Smith
Valley Voices

Nearly 15 years ago, my wife, Pam, and I made a decision to purchase a house in Cordillera and make the Vail Valley our home after retirement. We had been through an extensive process to determine where we would like to live after retirement. We went through the “beach vs. the mountains” thing and so many of the other things that many couples approaching retirement assess. Perhaps ours was a bit more extensive than others because at the time we were living in Hong Kong and had spent much of the previous two decades living outside the United States and had no “home base” in the U.S.

Our process included such things as finding a place with access to the many sports and outdoor activities that are such an important part of our lives, cultural opportunities, proximity to a metro area that offers arts, theater, music, professional sports, a major university and a major university medical center. We also wanted a local, medical community that can provide state-of-the-art primary care, high-quality dental and optical care, a community with an academic demographic and one that is politically and socially active. We both grew up in close families and in tight communities, so this was also part of our criteria and we found this in Cordillera and the surrounding valley communities.

Glaring Deficiency

All-in-all, pretty ideal except for one glaring deficiency: No long-term or rehabilitation care facilities. While this was a major void, it wasn’t unusual for mountain communities to lack these facilities, and we felt that over the coming years, as the community began to age, that changes in the demographics would attract attention to such an important missing link and there would be a movement to fill the gap. Such a movement has begun with the campaign to raise funds for the Castle Peak Senior Care Center to be located in Eagle. We are active as members of the Capital Campaign Committee, and the project is making excellent progress toward securing the necessary financing to break ground for the facility.

Recently we were reminded just how important this facility will be when a friend had an unfortunate mishap with another skier on the mountain at Vail and broke both of her legs. She is a single mother and is unable to go about her life as she normally would. She requires significant rehabilitation and the only option she has is to spend six weeks in a facility in Denver because there are no options for medium term, professional rehabilitation in the valley. She is now away from home, unable to work, even part-time, which has created a logistical nightmare for her until she can return home.

If rehab services were available, as they are planned for in the new facility, then she might be able to work part-time and she’d have friends around to help her as she convalesces.

Critical For ‘Mountain Community’

I’m sure that many of you have similar stories that would have much happier circumstances if such a facility existed today. Assisted living facilities, long-term care and memory care, in addition to rehab services, will be critical for those of us who wish to live out our lives in the valley rather than be forced to move where either family or professional facilities and services are available. Join with me and many others who have already pledged their support so we can realize this new facility will fill that gap that keeps us from living in the “ideal mountain community.” For further information on the Castle Peak Senior Care project, please go to

Richard A. Smith lives in Cordillera.

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