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Letters to the editor

Pete Feistmann

I just read Kent Logan’s superb columns on the future of Vail. I don’t know him well, but I’ve listened to him in council meetings, and spoken to him several times about town issues. His analysis is always exceptionally clear, thorough, rational and free of bias. That’s probably why he was so successful in business. We’re lucky to have someone with Kent’s background, and no local ax to grind, on the council. Since he isn’t running in this election, this seems like a good time to simply say thanks, Kent, for giving our town the benefit of your experience and wisdom. We’re lucky to have you!Pete FeistmannVailDonovan supporterI’m writing in support of Diana Donovan for another term on the Vail Town Council. Diana has a strong environmental background, and in these times it’s crucial to have elected officials who understand and care about the environment. I’ve worked with Diana on important local issues, including recent attempts to have Cross Creek designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. It would be Colorado’s first wilderness wild river. Thanks to her support, we are making progress. Diana’s positive record on such issues goes back decades. She was part of our efforts to stop the Homestake II water diversion project in the 1980s. So, too, was her well-known father, William Bird Mounsey, whose University of the Wilderness was an early supporter of the Holy Cross Wilderness Defense Fund. As a former board member of that organization, I’ve spent many years working on wilderness, water, and recreational issues that are integral to the quality of life in Vail. Diana Donovan is the right choice to represent these quality of life concerns for the town of Vail. Tom Phillips Littleton For changeVail Citizens for Change would like to thank members of the community and the candidates for Vail Town Council for attending our candidate question and answer forum last Monday at the Holiday Inn. We feel fortunate to have thrown an event attended by all 10 Town Council candidates and appreciate their candid responses to some very challenging questions. Our event was a success because of the large public turnout, as well as the great number of poignant questions from the voting public. Since the forum, many people have asked us our motivation for getting involved in the political process. We would like to take this opportunity to reveal our motives.We are members of the Vail business community who want to improve both the economic and social climate of Vail. The costs of doing business and living in Vail year-round have grown beyond the average local’s means. We believe that smart and sustainable development will increase the opportunity for living and doing business in Vail. Development can increase the inventory of affordable housing and commercial space in town; as a result, home and business ownership will be possible for more people. We also believe that it will keep our town competitive in the future as both a resort and community. To that extent, we support a rethinking of our local government’s development process. Smart and sustainable development is not something to be feared but should be embraced as a necessary step into Vail’s future. Our goal is not to have Vail continuously under construction, but to treat our town with the same pride of ownership we each have in our own homes. Updating our town’s structures and facade when they become obsolete will help us continue as a dynamic community that appeals to current and future generations of Vail locals and visitors. If this does not happen, we fear that Vail will become solely a second-home community with commercial outlets catering to a single demographic.The town’s development process must change in three key aspects. First, developers need to have guidelines relevant to today’s Vail; decisions should not be based on outdated zoning laws. Second, the process needs to be direct, straightforward and efficient; developers need to have a reasonable notion as to what can be built, as well as the town’s needs. Finally, current ex parte communication rules need to be clarified and possibly rethought to allow for the creation of a dialogue between developers and the town, which will produce better results.Once again, we would like to thank all of you for continuing the 200-year American tradition of taking part in the political process. Remember that Nov. 8 is Election Day and early voting runs through Nov. 4. We’ll see you at the polls. Please fell free to e-mail us at ask@vailcitizensforchange.org with questions.Craig CohnOpportunity knocksOpportunity is as close the polling place for the upcoming town of Vail elections. The Vail Conference Center has been exhaustively studied and each report concludes a conference center will be successful here. Most recently, national surveys show that conference center business increased by 7.5 percent in 2004 and is budgeted to increase another 9 percent in 2005 (PKF-C & International Association of Conference Centers). In his recent seminar for the retail community here in Vail, Ian F. Thomas of Thomas Consultants Inc. indicated that conference attendees are great for business; on average conference attendees spend 10 times what a local will spend each day and four times what other visitors spend.The conference center is conservatively projected to bring $34 million in new revenue annually into the town. This translates to more than $10 million in tips, better pay and job security with less drastic seasonal swings and layoffs. The majority of this new business will appear between April and November when Vail is seriously under utilized. A more stable economy will create an opportunity for employers to retain middle management and well trained front line staff on a year round basis. These employees are the people who appreciate Vail and who offer exceptional guest service – oft noted as vital to the town’s continued success.Vail has grown and changed over the years, perhaps beyond the expectations of its early citizens. It is no longer, and can never again be a quaint little ski town. Vail long ago outgrew being a winter only economy; winter guests alone cannot support businesses and people in the area. Skier numbers have remained flat for years and the industry doesn’t appear to be able to get back to an upward climb. The Vail community has a responsibility to maintain a year round resort and completion of the conference center is the biggest and most exciting opportunity to bring off peak guests to town since its inception. And, as an added benefit, during periods such as Christmas week when conferences wouldn’t be occurring, the center’s operators can schedule concerts, holiday fairs or other activities that will benefit locals and guests alike.Vail voters can seize the biggest opportunity in many years to stimulate and support the local economy by voting YES on No. 1. Pamela StenmarkVail, Colorado


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