Letter: We need employee housing, but not Booth Heights
I love Vail, and understand the role that the resort company plays in our community. I acknowledge the importance that housing plays for employees and employers. However, I challenge Beth Howard’s statement that the Booth Heights location is ideal for employee housing.
It is the opposite of ideal for development. Not only is it already inhabited by a native bighorn sheep herd, but it is also a geologic hazard zone that contains wetlands and habitat for other wildlife. A huge rockfall mitigation berm is part of the plan. The increased traffic, foot and vehicular, would make an already dangerous underpass intersection worse. For decades, the parcel was an integral part of a community-developed open land plan.
I am moved by stories of people moving to town, spending all their savings on first and last month’s rent, working multiple jobs to stay afloat, struggling with housing availability and expenses. I have lived this narrative. The limited space for growth in the Vail Valley will continue to be a problem. If we build on every available parcel now, in 40 years, my guess is we will still have a housing issue.
The rites of passage for young people will continue to include emptying their pockets to put a roof over their heads and juggling several jobs around their ski schedule. Old-timers will still sit on their favorite bar stool. The moon will rise over the Grand Traverse. Some things will never change.
Unfortunately, what will change is the disappearance of our bighorn sheep herd. The wild mountain feel of East Vail will be diminished. Environmental stewardship was at the core of Vail’s founders’ original philosophy, and I believe that it should be at the heart of our vision for the future.