Letter: Yes, we need housing, but we don’t need Booth Heights
This letter was originally addressed to the town of Vail’s Planning and Environmental Commission.
In the Town of Vail’s Environmental Sustainability Strategic Plan of 2009, the Executive Summary stated:
“As a tourism destination for outdoor activity, the town of Vail relies heavily on the environment to provide natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Therefore, the state of the environment greatly affects the town’s economy. It is essential to maintain and improve the state of our environment to ensure that our natural resources are available to future generations. Vail’s reputation as a resort industry leader lends itself to setting exceptional standards for environmental stewardship.”
Three independent wildlife biology studies commissioned by the town of Vail to study the East Vail parcel have concluded that no “mitigation” would assure that the herd of bighorn sheep on the site would preclude the herd’s extinction as a result of the proposed Booth Heights development.
In addition to the threat to the sheep, the site of the proposed Booth Heights development sits at the base of historic rockfall and landslides. Thus far the developer has not addressed the risks that the extensive excavation of the existing Aspen grove would have on the stability of the mountainside above, placing residents in danger. In all previous meetings, the developer has not presented the PEC with any sort of comprehensive Geotech study of the site.
Other issues — traffic congestion of the frontage road, need for greatly increased town bus service, pedestrian safety, the reality of a giant berm creating a gash in the beautiful mountainside at the entrance to the valley, inaccessibility of goods and services for residents, and enforcement of a ban on human and canine encroachment on the limited bighorn grazing land — are all insufficiently addressed in the proposal.
As important as housing is to Vail, there are other viable sites for housing in Vail.
I hope all Vail residents will support the difficult decision the PEC is being charged with making. I sincerely hope that the commission’s decision will preclude yet another nail in the coffin of Vail’s fragile natural environment.