Letter: Renovating gymnastics center is a mistake
To members of the Vail Town Council: I am writing to you in opposition of the proposal under consideration to renovate the Vail Gymnastics Center to accommodate a community/child care center.
I understand that this proposal is part of a compromise between the town of Vail and Triumph Development to relocate the approved Booth Heights housing development away from the East Vail parcel to the town-owned property that includes the Children’s Garden of Learning, and the subsequent relocation of the child care center to a third-floor addition at the Vail Gymnastics Center. I encourage you to realize the folly of this plan, both in terms of community and economic impact.
My daughter has been a member of the Vail Gymnastics Junior Olympics Competitive Team for going on five years. The girls on the competitive team and their coaches are passionate about their sport and have been successfully growing the program over the last few years. The Vail Gymnastics Center offers the only JO program between Aspen and Evergreen and is the only local USAG sanctioned program that qualifies athletes for college and elite programs.
As with any other competitive sport, our families spend thousands of dollars and countless hours every year to ensure the highest quality training and opportunities for competitions around the country. Our athletes began their training as young as 3 years old and continue through high school and into college. We have a vested interest in the success of the program and the continued success of our children in their chosen sport. In addition to the competitive team, the gymnastics center offers classes and programs for dozens of children (and adults) in the valley. These programs have already been affected by closures due to COVID-19 and to propose construction which would make the center unusable for an additional extended period of time is unacceptable.
Attempting to retrofit another story onto an existing building comes with a unique set of challenges that equate to a significant price tag, probably comparable to building a new child care center from the ground up. I sincerely hope you have a third party evaluate the economic feasibility of this proposal to renovate the gymnastics center compared to subsidizing a child care center in the housing development you are determined to relocate. That is your fiscal responsibility.
A slight redesign of the Booth Heights proposal to incorporate a community/child care center (similar to Miller Ranch) with a contribution from the town is a reasonable solution you should consider. The town has successfully developed child care in conjunction with housing in the past (Vail Commons) and this is an opportunity to further those types of partnerships.
There has been a child care center on the site of the Children’s Garden of Learning since the 1970s. Likewise, the Vail Gymnastics program has been in existence since the 70s. Both of these programs are integral parts of the Vail community and attempting to downplay their importance by forcing each to conform to a substandard design is shameful. You promote this as “thinking outside the box” yet you haven’t explored any other options in a public hearing setting. This is not being creative; this is being stubbornly stuck on one bad idea after another.
This council has been clear that housing is a priority and that you are not willing to sacrifice the herd of bighorn sheep that reside in the proposed Booth Heights area. I certainly hope you are not going to sacrifice what’s best for our children instead.
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