Vail Daily editorial: This is big |

Vail Daily editorial: This is big

In terms of historic impact, Vail Resorts’ rollout of its Epic Discovery summer program in Vail may not have the effect of opening the mountain to skiing in 1962. Still, opening the mountain to a range of summer recreation is a big deal.

From the days before Bridge Street was paved through today’s bustle of the warm-weather months, winter sales tax collections have always out-earned summer by roughly three to one. And, throughout Vail’s history, people have wondered how summer might represent a bigger slice of the revenue pie.

Epic Discovery might help that effort. Looking at Vail Resorts’ pricing and lodging packages, the intent is to bring people to Vail to stay and play. That’s going to help other businesses in town.

While many in town are optimistic about the prospects for creating a new market for Vail Mountain, every coin has its flip side.

When then-Senator Mark Udall proposed the bill that paved the way for Epic Discovery, part of the pitch was to create more jobs. That was important in 2011. Today, with the valley’s rental vacancy rate at essentially zero, our housing crunch is as serious now as it is in the winter.

It will be interesting to see how the valley’s existing workforce responds to the new opportunity.

If Epic Discovery is as successful as most of us hope, will that lead the town of Vail to start charging for summer parking? Will the town be prompted to increase bus service?

Then there’s the fact that what was once a peaceful summer retreat is now gearing up for an increasing number of visitors. There are some in town — particularly those who remember Vail’s sleepy summers — who look warily at the prospect of more visitors during our delightful warm months.

Despite those notes of caution, Epic Discovery’s prospects are encouraging.

Sales tax is the lifeblood of Colorado towns. Even in Vail, a town with reserve funds in the millions, extra revenue can help with projects from housing to street repair.

Ultimately, Epic Discovery is likely to open up the public land of Vail Mountain to a new audience, many of whom will gain a new appreciation for this part of the world.

How can that be a bad thing?

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