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Letters to the editor

Rob LeVine

There was a presentation and then short discussion about the conference center at Tuesday morning’s VCBA meeting. I was surprised at the comments from a few folks who questioned whether “these people” that would use the conference facility really match “our market.” I’m afraid these merchants fail to recognize that “these people” are ALREADY coming to Vail. They ARE our market. Group business accounts for more than half of the business at the Marriott (the largest generator of room nights in Vail). The percentage is even higher at the Cascade Hotel. Smaller conference hotels such as Manor Vail, the Antlers and others generally attribute 20 percent to 40 percent of our annual revenues to group business. These people are doctors, lawyers and other professionals. They are a huge part of our existing business and it’s too bad they DON’T wear funny hats. Then maybe everyone would recognize just how important conference business already is to Vail’s economy.Of course, in the future we’ll finally be able to accommodate groups of 1,000-1,500, thanks to the new conference center. And there IS one big difference between the people that will come with those groups and the ones currently coming with groups of 100500. There will be a lot more of them!So will we be overrun? Hardly. The 80,000 additional projected room nights attributable to the conference center represents a mere 10 percent of the current volume of annual overnight guests in Vail. If you also consider the number of people who don’t pay for a room, but instead stay in their own place, or with friends, the impact is even less. And what does that tell us? Two things. First, there won’t be an enormously noticeable difference in the number of people in town. And yet, who among us would eschew our portion of the additional $33 million in annual gross sales those numbers represent? Secondly, it’s not a pie-in-the sky number. If someone told you a facility like this would increase our collective revenues by 40 percent, it would be cause for skepticism. But 10 percent? That’s not only doable, it’s probably conservative. Of course, that’s nothing new. All the numbers associated with the conference center are conservative – the costs, the revenues, the economic impact, everything. That’s why this facility is going to be a roaring success. It will be so successful that five years from now you won’t be able to find a soul who will admit to opposing it today. I just wish we’d get on with it.Rob LeVineGeneral ManagerAntlers at VailTalentThis letter is in response to Mr. Greensher’s letter in Friday, March 4’s letter to the editor. I have worked very closely with most of the theater groups in this valley for over a decade. These groups include many of the talented children in this valley. I would like to address some of the points made in his letter:Mr. Greensher claimed that his daughter is talented. I am sure she is, but to tell you the truth, her talent has not stuck out above and beyond anyone else in the shows that I have seen that she has participated in. He said that “the children in the productions felt bad about themselves when my daughter was given solo parts.” I have worked with these kids on various projects, and they are the most gracious kids I have ever worked with. They applaud each other when they do well. I have seen it happen time and time again. I have seen these kids show up at auditions where they know there is not a large part available for them – only chorus – and their attitude is that they just want to be a part of the show. These are kids, mind you, who are used to getting leads. I have watched most of these kids grow from being terrified on stage to having the confidence needed to sing in front of hundreds of people. Mr. Greensher said, “These children in Vail for the most part would never go to an open casting call for professional productions because the professional casting directors do not play around. If you are average, they tell you, and say you are not good enough.” While auditions outside of the valley may be few and far between (although NOT non-existent) for these kids, that does not mean that they would not get the parts if they tried. I can’t tell you the magnitude of the talent and professionalism of these kids. Many are graduating soon and some have already been accepted to exceptional theater or dance schools, and I have no doubt that some of these kids will shine one day in their genre of performance arts. For the younger ones, I hope that they can keep their childhoods as long as possible, have fun, build confidence and learn about disappointment while they finish growing up. I hope that they can appreciate the novelty of singing at the Vilar or Ford Amphitheater, and the special guidance and tutelage that they are receiving through the professionals involved in these programs. The professionals that he so criticized are involved with these children because they want to give the kids the benefit of their knowledge and experience. I don’t know how much money they make from their efforts, but it probably isn’t enough for what they give back in return. Given where we live, so far from New York or other entertainment meccas, we are truly blessed to have their talents available to us. They are kind, loving, giving, and damn good role models for the children. I hope that my son will want to participate in these theater programs when he is old enough. I can’t think of a more positive influence for him to have in his life.Susan MoranGranite dustI have recently read a letter forwarded to me by the Holy Cross District Ranger, Cal Wettstein, regarding treatments to prevent pine beetle attack using “granite dust.” According to the letter, the author of the letter was in possession of an article that describes this technique being used in Germany to protect trees from being attacked by bark beetles there. This method was suggested by the author of the letter as a way to deal with the ongoing pine beetle activity seen around Vail Valley.I have contacted Dr. Alfred Wulf of the Institute for Plant Protection in Forests (Braunschweig, Germany), who has stated that “granite dust,” “rock dust” and even lime are sometimes applied aerially to forests where “acid rain” is a problem. The inorganic materials act as a soil amendment that can counteract the acidification of forest soils. The trees on a treated site respond in a positive way, and their increased vigor due to the soil amendment allows them to better withstand the impact of various insects, fungi and other abiotic (non-living) factors.Unlike the European situation, “acid rain” is not the driving force behind the current beetle outbreak. In Vail Valley, mountain pine beetles are killing large numbers of trees because so many stands here are in a susceptible state. Bark beetle susceptibility is a function of tree vigor, but in the case of Vail Valley dense stands of large trees compete for limited moisture. The fact that much of Colorado has endured drought conditions for a number of years has contributed to increasing beetle populations throughout the state.No one at the Holy Cross Ranger District has seen the original article referring to the use of “granite dust,” but we would be glad to look it over. (Perhaps it was sent to the Colorado State Forest Service.)In any case, I can assure the residents of Vail Valley that the USDA Forest Service cares deeply about forest conditions on the White River National Forest. The Holy Cross Ranger District has recently completed a plan (The Vail Valley Forest Health Project) that intends to address long-term forest health issues. While the U.S. Forest Service is unable to prevent bark beetle activity over the huge expanse of national forest that they manage, a number of positive steps have been proposed to deal with conditions within and adjacent to the urban interface.If you have additional questions or comments regarding forest management, bark beetles or the proposed forest health project, please do not hesitate to contact either the Holy Cross Ranger District or myself.Tom Eager, Ph.D. Forest Health Management USDA Forest ServiceVail, Colorado


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