Vail Daily column: Staying engaged in Avon | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Staying engaged in Avon

Sarah Smith Hymes
Valley Voices

On Jan. 27, the Avon Town Council invited the Wildridge community to gather for an early evening update and conversation on town matters. It was gratifying to meet with upwards of 75 people interested in learning about land use issues, the new public safety facility, trails planning and capital improvements. Mayor Jennie Fancher, Councilors Buz Reynolds and Megan Burch, Police Chief Bob Ticer, Fire Chief Karl Bauer, and town staff were also there to answer questions.

We learned a lot. Foremost is our need to do more to ensure that our citizens and guests can easily find information on council agendas and decisions, available services and happenings about town. Civic engagement had already been identified as a top priority in the council's strategic plan for this year. Last summer's community survey told us that the Vail Daily is the primary source of information for our residents, so we now issue more press releases and run a half-page ad every second and fourth Monday of the month to highlight important agenda items and other topics of interest.

We agree that the town's website needs to be easier to navigate and more engaging. Slate Communications has already started work on crafting Avon's first marketing and communications plan, which includes website and social media programming. Immediate improvements will be made to make http://www.avon.org the place to go for information on Town Council and Planning & Zoning Commission agendas, past actions and municipal services.

Meeting participants had questions about the proposed joint public safety facility to house the town of Avon Police Department and Eagle River Fire Protection District. The site is next to the new medical office building on Nottingham Road on the corner of Swift Gulch Road. This facility has been before the council many times since first announced one year ago. Work has included detailed space needs assessment and site analysis, a traffic study and review of financing alternatives. Now is the time for citizens to learn about the project and raise questions as the council prepares to ask voters to approve bonding backed by current real estate taxes. No new taxes are proposed. To understand the scope and timing of the project β€” including the traffic study, building design and cost of funding β€” go to avon.org and click on "public safety facility" on the home page. Please come share your views at the public meeting with the fire district set for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers. This will be followed by a council meeting to discuss the ballot question slated for May.

Real estate transfer taxes and land use issues regarding Wildridge lot splits and lock-offs were other subjects of passionate conversation. Stay tuned for a concise presentation of the data you need to evaluate the real cost of building or purchasing property in Avon. To help you watch for items of interest that will come before council, sign up to have meeting agendas (and other town notifications) emailed directly to you. Go to http://www.avon.org and click on "notify me." Council meetings are the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. I look forward to seeing you at our next council or community meeting.

Sarah Smith Hymes is a member of the Avon Town Council.