Letter: Vail can’t go on serving two masters: Its residents and Vail Resorts
September 29, 2017
Vail can't go on serving two masters
The Vail Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, Sept. 19, to conduct the first reading of an ordinance to rezone a parcel of land owned by Vail Resorts was replete with mutual back slapping and effusive platitudes to a passionate electorate. To me, it was a veiled attempt to perfume the pig.
Anne Esson in her article in the Vail Daily described the issue as being akin to a "Sophie's Choice." Five members of the Town Council attempted to make the issue a "Hobson's Choice" by spreading the specter of fear of catastrophic development potential should they not grant Vail Resorts' request. That's a shameless tactic oftentimes used by those who are desperate for a way to avoid the real issue.
Notwithstanding attempts to market Vail as a "premier green resort," what we witnessed was a Town Council and perhaps many of Vail's citizens' refusal to acknowledge the reality that Vail has arguably outgrown its ability to be an environmentally sustainable community. The issue of employee housing has been historically kicked down the road by several councils, all bemoaning the dire nature of the dilemma while at the same time relegating the town to mere spectator status as Vail Resorts has grown exponentially in its Vail footprint and its bottom line. We are undeniably at the point where something has to give, and this community needs to decide what is expendable.
But the life raft of employee housing is sinking now, and there's no time to discuss how we got here in the first place. So there's nothing like an emergency that can provide the specious rationale to disregard your own set of criteria in granting a rezoning request to the proverbial tail that wags the dog. If the Town Council elects to stay its course, then Vail Resorts will take its pound of flesh once again, but this time Mother Nature will pay the price.
Employee housing is real, and it does need a solution. And at some point, a serious discussion needs to occur to understand the evolution of its priority status. In the meantime, we all need to decide if expediency must necessarily take precedence over a legacy of commitment to our environment and if expediting the extinction of Vail's herd of bighorn sheep is a reasonable price to pay to appease a problem largely created by the unchecked growth of Vail Resorts.
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It's time to decide if being a bona fide environmentalist is a full-time commitment or part-time pursuit that must take a back seat to the consequences of unchecked, irresponsible economic growth. We can't go on serving two masters. It's time to pick one.