Letter: Children’s Garden of Learning is prime habitat
The Children’s Garden of Learning is prime habitat for nurturing children and families. Unfortunately, this habitat is threatened because our longstanding need for workforce housing threatened bighorn sheep habitat in another location. Yet, trophy homes are under construction near that critical bighorn sheep habitat.
CGL’s habitat was carefully considered by a previous Vail Town Council. It was not easy. It was emotional. It took time. Workforce housing had to be built. Early childhood education centers had to be displaced. At the end of the day, the Middle Creek housing project was built and CGL was established, formed by combining The Learning Tree and ABC School — two critical community builders that had been operating since 1978. The natural setting, the parking and drop off, the mostly-hidden from view location — they were all intentional aspects of creating a great habitat for early childhood development.
Perhaps in the early 2000s, within five years of the “Vail Tomorrow” process where we affirmed our designation as a “resort community” — both equal, neither less important than the other — we were still striving for families to live in Vail. Have we lost how important it is to keep the community equal to the resort? Families build community.
As we lose the battle to retain families in Vail, the fallback position has been to attract workers to Vail who bring their children with them to our preschools, elementary, and K-12 schools. Diminishing a quality preschool by possibly moving it to a low-quality habitat only further degrades the community half of our resort.
Previous Vail Town Councils have worked through brutal issues on housing and schools. Vail has been a leader. The Vail Commons housing project — brutal! And it included a preschool! Vail led. Middle Creek — pretty brutal. And it replaced two preschools. Vail led. Timber Ridge/Lions Ridge — long and tough. Vail led. Possible closure of Red Sandstone Elementary — no way! The town partnered on building upgrades and structured parking. Vail led.
If you’ve forgotten what it took to bring Middle Creek and CGL to fruition, review these Vail Daily stories from June 2002: “Affordable rental housing in Vail?“, August 2002: “An era ends; another begins“, and March 2003: “Moving out of the way.”
Our housing needs have always been daunting. Our preschool needs have always been daunting. The existence of our community has slowly degraded the quality of our environment. If the Booth Heights parcel is not suitable for housing due to degrading habitat, yet children and families can be displaced from their habitat — then take the time to relocate and create a high quality habitat for this vital component of the Vail community.
Housing, children, and bighorn sheep are all worthy causes; they each deserve a worthy solution.