Vail Daily column: Avon plan is smart and sound
The use of certificates of participation (debt) to buy the Skier Building is an important issue before the town voters. The debt issue is at exceedingly low interest rates and no new taxes can or will be required to pay the debt. I appreciate the Vail Daily’s coverage, but must respond to points made in your Thursday editorial as follows:
The acquisition of the building is not a tempting mirage, but rather a well researched and negotiated purchase of a well-constructed and perfectly sited building for town use. With the current Town Hall in need of extensive repairs, council determined over the last year, renovations to the existing building would just be good money pouring into what would still be a building in need of significant repair. It is felt to be a far better use of town money to acquire the Skier Building now vs. demolition and construction at the current site. Most importantly, adopted town plans call for the current Town Hall to be moved elsewhere in the core of town, and as you point out, “clear more room by the lake or put a conference center at the current town hall site.” There has been no rush. Council began reviewing town-owned properties and its adopted plans in the spring of 2013.
In terms of estimated value, your editorial does not present that two independent appraisals were completed: The Points of Colorado’s (Starwood) appraisal found the building and land to appraise at $4,195,000 while the town’s appraisal found the property to be valued at $2,042,500. The negotiated price for the sale is $3,200,000. Your editorial reports that Mr. Mark Kogan has done a valuation analysis and he believes the building and land to be worth $866,000, or $55 per square foot, a value significantly below either appraisal. The council found the Skier Building could not be replaced today for $3,200,000, and that relocating municipal uses would open up immense value at the current Town Hall site for beneficial uses.
In terms of the building’s current quality and structural integrity, qualified firms were hired to do that work prior to the town’s purchase and sale agreement. Eagle Eye Home Inspections, in deference to its name, states that 15 percent of its business is in commercial building inspections and is owned by a certified engineer. Monroe & Newell is a most reputable engineering firm. Both firms found the building to be sound. The town has reviewed power, water, elevator, floor load capacity and all matters to ensure the building is well constructed and meets the professional office needs of the town. There is no evidence that “ … the Skier Building was constructed as cheaply as possible.” The town has no report nor has requested any report from Vail Resorts. In your editorial you do not identify who is representing Vail Resorts or making findings that the building is constructed cheaply. We respectfully ask that you disclose your sources and written materials to substantiate these claims.
The Town Council did not “fast track” the analysis or negotiation of the Skier Building. Work began in the spring of 2013 to evaluate all town properties and how to implement the long-standing development plans of the town. The finish budget for the Skier Building includes all costs and a contingency. No professionals have questioned whether it is adequate and council has already set forth a process to ensure the budget is met, including retaining a cost estimator.
I am available to answer questions or provide information prior to next week’s editorial to ensure complete information on the question before the voters is available.
Jennie Fancher is the mayor of Avon.
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