Letter: Condemn Booth Heights
I am in full support of the position that the Booth Heights property must be preserved as important for the mountain sheep survival and for our reputation as being environmentally proactive. I put more reliance, concerning the sheep, on the opinions of former Colorado Parks and Wildlife employees than developer-paid experts.
Based on my experience on Town Council during the Gillett Holdings bankruptcy, I am confident that the town has the power to condemn the Booth Heights property for public purposes. The Town Council’s power of condemnation of other Vail Resorts’ properties such as Ever Vail properties should be of great concern to Vail Resorts management. It is my opinion that it maybe a greater financial and PR advantage for Vail Resorts to donate the Booth Heights property to the Eagle Valley Land Trust in perpetuity then selling it to a developer.
Perhaps it is time for Town Council to re-examine the town’s participation in areas that Vail Resorts gets the major benefits:
- Why are we master leasing to Vail Resorts the town-subsidized Timber Ridge apartments for their employees and not require them to build Vail Resorts-owned units? Should these subsidized units only be available to small Vail employers who are unable to own units?
- Why are we providing free parking to “day” skiers that provide minimal revenues to the town? Are we spending a disproportionate amount for marketing?
- Why did we take over the full capital expenditures for buses when Vail Resorts arbitrarily decided not to participate in an agreed plan for free bus service?
- Why allow Vail Resorts employees to use the soccer field and town parking when Vail Resorts owns Ever Vail land that could be used for their employee parking and housing?
- Why are we continuing to provide funds for cloud seeding if Vail Resorts doesn’t participate?
- Why would Town Council agree to extend the development plan approval for Booth Heights for three years?
I encourage Town Council to hire a law firm specializing in municipal condemnation lawsuits to advise them.
We have an employer housing shortage. Do we know, concerning our top 10 employers, what percentage of their employees live in employer-owned and controlled housing? I suspect that Vail Resorts is a major cause of the shortage.
I encourage Town Council to challenge Vail Resorts to do the “right things.“ You will have the support of our community.
I also acknowledge the many ways the town and Vail Resorts successfully cooperate to make our town a great place to live. Also, I am involved with several nonprofits that have been the recipients of Rob Katz’s generous philanthropy, of which I am thankful.
However, the objectives of a public company often collides with what is better for our citizens versus their stockholders. The balance has swung too much to Vail Resorts’ advantage in too many areas.