Letter: Vail’s memorandum of understanding is problematic
The Vail Town Council is in danger of abrogating its responsibility for wise and strong management of town of Vail funds and initiatives. The danger lies in approval of the proposed memorandum of understanding between the town, Vail Resorts and Triumph Development as currently written. As the Vail Town Council is elected by citizens to represent their concerns, to share that responsibility with or to be unduly pressured by any other entity would be a travesty of the worst kind.
The purpose of the MOU, as I understand it, is to assure the transfer of ownership of the so-called Booth Heights property from Vail Resorts to the town of Vail, giving consideration to Vail Resorts’ agreement with Triumph Development — a simple agreement that would assure that Triumph Development would be allowed to construct a number of housing units equal to those approved by the town’s Planning and Environmental Commission for the Booth Heights property — 144+/- units and giving Triumph right of first refusal to redevelop the Timber Ridge Village Apartments. The transfer of title to Booth Heights from Vail Resorts to the town of Vail should be no later than the date a C/O is issued for the Middle Creek development, rather than being dependent upon a number of other proposed factors. Subsequently, the so-called Booth Heights property should in the MOU be declared immediately by the town of Vail to be “designated open space” protected in perpetuity.
In an effort to be inclusive in delineating the MOU, the above process has muddied the waters. The Town Council should retain its authority to allocate funds and determine timing for housing development within the town of Vail as and when funds are deemed sufficient and a need is agreed upon by the council. Representing the citizens of Vail, the council should not be held hostage to imposed declarations regarding timing and funding by any other entity.
The aggressive proposals for “alternative housing sites initiative” now included in the MOU proposal should be entirely separate from the timely MOU agreement to settle the issue of Booth Heights.
In its proactive proposals for workforce housing, the Vail Local Housing Authority should be reminded that the citizens of Vail have been involved for many years prior to the VLHA’s creation in the thoughtful preservation of the rare open space within the town of Vail. A case in point is the successfully litigated preservation of the three benches of Donovan Park legally based on their purchase via RETT funds by the Town. The VLHA was formed to consider the issue of workforce housing, not to be a tail wagging the dog/Town Council. In any case, rezoning of any of our open spaces should be extensively examined by the Town Council and very possibly be put to a citizens’ vote, considering the divisiveness of the Booth Heights process produced within our town. Let us have peace and trust in our Vail Town Council.