Vail Daily column: Issues for new Vail council
My letter in the Nov. 2 Vail Daily highlighted certain topics were missing during the October candidates forum. Let me further peel the onion of these topics for the new council now that it has three new faces.
• Working with Vail Resorts: Discussion of town of Vail expanding on the Vail brand was discussed, but without even bringing Vail Resorts and Vail Mountain into the picture — which certainly accounts for half of the brand recognition! The town of Vail and Vail Resorts are really joined at the hip, but they seem to avoid eye contact some of the time! Hence, does the whole process of working together need to be reviewed to maximize synergism?
• Health and wellness: The council previously declared this is the future of Vail in terms of maintaining and expanding our economic base, especially with global warming likely bringing more folks to the mountains. This being the case, how could this topic be left out of any discussion of key issues? The notion of branding Vail as an iconic health and wellness destination characterizes Vail as the place to be for services, products and opportunities focused on the body, mind and soul. These include: Hospital and surgery, recovery and fitness, diet and lifestyle, recreation and entertainment, education and “recharge,” etc. In short, putting flesh on “health and wellness” will require being proactive with adequate funding and some “gear box” mechanism to provide some level of coordination or theme among all the players, including but not limited to: Town of Vail, Vail Recreation District, Vail Valley Medical Center, Vail/Summit Orthopedics, Steadman Clinic, Colorado Mountain Medical, Vail Symposium, Bravo and dance, Vail Athletic Club and Aria, physical therapy operations, restaurants and food stores and retail.
• Listening to the electorate: The candidate forum fleshed out two specific suggestions: One, a shortened version of our Vail Tomorrow effort some years ago and, two, changing the council meeting format where once the staff recommends something, it seems to be a done deal in terms of anyone really interested in what public comments might come up. One suggestion floating around for some time is to create an “expert brain bank” that could selectively be called together in a working group to provide recommendations in areas that the council and staff are lacking expertise or available time.
• The common thread: The notion of “process” is woven through all these topics. My humble view is the rigid, “collared” format of council meetings sometimes is a detriment of having real focus on big issues and outside-the-box thinking. Further constrains come from certain rules regarding council members not allowed to meet outside of the meeting venue. My specific suggestion is more council retreats, properly facilitated by practitioners who are trained in proven methodologies and bringing in more staff and community members (where all participants leave their titles at the door — all voices are equal).
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