Vail Daily editorial: Location, location, location?
Jim Pavelich is a shrewd operator, so when he talks, it’s worth listening.
Pavelich is the co-founder of this newspaper — the first of several over the years — but his most clever move may be in the restaurant business. He’s the founder and owner of Northside Coffee & Kitchen on, yes, the north side of Avon’s main Interstate 70 interchange. If you’ve been, you know Pavelich’s place is busy much, if not most, of the time. It’s a classic combination of having the right product in the right place.
Pavelich makes a good argument that there could be more successful businesses in that part of town, if only there was available land. But a parcel of land near Northside is instead seen as a good site for a new Eagle River Fire Protection District headquarters and, possibly, a new headquarters for the Avon Police Department.
The fire district and town are separate entities, so there would be some governmental gymnastics required to make the joint facility a reality. But that’s not too high a hurdle. Perhaps more complex is the financial waltz necessary between the district and a private developer to swap parcels in the Buck Creek area.
That developer, NexCore, recently presented preliminary plans for a 47,000-square-foot medical facility in the area.
Whatever happens with the property, the fact of the matter is that the fire district and police department both need new space. If you’ve been to Avon’s police station in the past few years, you know it’s tighter than cozy. On a busy weekend — such as the now-departed Snowball music festival — it can be hard to move in the place.
The fire station has more available space, but the building is old, and the district’s main office is in rented space nearby.
The ultimate question, though, and the one asked by Pavelich and others, is this: Wouldn’t it be wiser to use property with commercial potential for commercial uses?
The fire district runs almost entirely on property taxes, so it would benefit from a medical building at Buck Creek. Towns rely on sales tax revenue for their fiscal lifeblood. Given the limited supply of property for revenue-producing businesses, it seems more prudent to reserve that valuable land for uses that will ultimately produce some sort of tax revenue rather than keeping land off the tax rolls with public use.
That was one of the complaints about the prospect of moving Avon’s town hall from its current location to the nearby Skier Building. A municipal office in what’s supposed to be a vibrant commercial area makes little economic sense.
Police, fire and other public-safety agencies obviously need quick access to roads. But that need and the need for vibrant commercial areas don’t necessarily have to conflict. We encourage further research into available sites for these important public uses.