Letter: Speaking for the sheep
We need workforce housing, but we need it in the right place. I commute from my home in East Vail past the bighorn sheep critical winter habitat daily. I can tell you that the sight of our herd grazing along the road this time of year is priceless, a gift to our town and our guests. People stop and look or take photos. It is a sight equal to seeing buffalo in Yellowstone. What a special thing we have here. Not only has this hillside been a winter haven for these creatures for longer than the town has been here, but it is part of a dark sky, green belt wildlife corridor. This time of year it is much easier to notice the darkness connecting both sides of the valley.
If there was ever a piece of Vail that needed protection, it the East Vail critical winter bighorn sheep habitat. Have all the opportunities to preserve this land been explored? The YES vote this past election to continue the open space tax shows the commitment of our community to open space. I urge decision-makers to consider the big picture when deciding the future of our valley.
Affordable housing is and always will be our No. 1 issue for our valley and especially in the Town of Vail. We do have other options.
The Town of Vail has identified five civic spaces that all could have some form of housing attached. The Town of Vail also has the parcel next to Middle Creek Housing that could be a big resource for worker housing. Vail Resorts could help solve the problem with the Ever Vail property. A project combining housing and parking would be a game changer for Vail Resorts and the Town of Vail. Development closer to the town core provides more convenience for employees and less impact on wildlife habitat.
Please be thoughtful when making this important decision that affects the health of our valley. Once the animals are gone they will not return. The people will keep coming. The Planning and Environmental Commission has the responsibility to make the right choice for the long term.